Power outages can occur for many reasons. They can be short; they can be long. They can happen while you are home or while you are away. They are difficult because we are dependent on electricity, which runs our appliances, our heating and air systems, our computers, and much more. However, there are practical steps to take so you can reduce your difficulties and cope with the situation when it occurs.
Like the Boy Scouts, this is a good motto when it comes to handling a power outage. Here are some steps to take in advance.
- Have a battery-operated radio to find out what is happening. Know what stations broadcast 24 hours a day and are reliable during outages.
- Keep non-perishable food supplies and bottled water on hand. A general rule of thumb is to have enough food and water for 3 days. Don’t forget food and water for your pets.
- Keep flashlights in every room; check periodically to see if you need to replace batteries. You can use candles if you have a way to light them and use them safely. Now there are many battery-operated candles available and many of them have remotes, making it easy to provide some type of lighting.
- Keep the appropriate batteries available for any device you will be using, such as the radio, battery, candles, or flashlights.
- If you have a cell phone, invest in a battery-operated charger; keep it charged - your cell phone may still work during an outage.
- Be sure to plan activities to make the situation tolerable during the outage, particularly for young children. In our electronic world, it can cause stress for some when electronics are not available.
- If you are in an area where you have frequent power outages, consider purchasing a small generator (learn how to use it before an outage happens and check it periodically).
Take Stock if a Power Outage Happens
When a power outage occurs, don’t wait; take immediate action.
- Determine the cause of the power outage as soon as possible. Use your battery operated radio or cell phone. This can make a difference in your planning. Remember that your property management company cannot control a utility power outage.
- Determine where everyone is who resides in your household and if they are safe.
- Determine if there is any danger from a gas leak. If you have any whiff of gas, vacate the residence immediately. Contact an emergency service as soon as possible.
- Check the outside of your residence carefully for any downed power lines. If you spot any, avoid them and do your best to contact an emergency service. Keep all members of your household away from dangerous power lines.
- Immediately turn off all appliances, computers, etc. so that if the power comes on suddenly, you don’t experience power surges and damage. Leave one small lamp on so you know when the power returns.
- Keep doors and windows locked for unwanted intruders. Be sure to open them if you need ventilation.
- Keep refrigeration closed; open only when necessary. Cold food can keep for four hours in the refrigerator and as long as two days in the freezer (provided it's full).
- If a power outage occurred while you were away from your residence, take steps to ensure any food is safe. Check the freezer for melted ice, excessive frost, or thawed food.
- Use bottled water for drinking in the event of contamination during certain types of emergencies.
- If you do use a generator, follow all directions. You don’t want to add carbon monoxide poisoning into your residence, so it is probably best to use it outside.
- Limit your cell phone activity so you can prolong its usage during the outage if it still works.
- When the power outage is over, if you have experienced any repair problems, notify your property management company immediately.
Being prepared, taking the necessary steps, and using common sense will get through your difficulties during a power outage.