Power Outage Tips
With so many bad storms occurring more frequently, the chance of you and your family losing electricity for a period of time is increasing. Years ago, these killer storms were considered rare and infrequent. Nowadays, with reports of nearly 22,000 severe weather reports in 2012 alone, we need to make sure we are as well prepared as we can be in case we lose power.
First of all, make sure you have plenty of flashlights in the house, at least one per person. Check batteries in all of your flashlights several times per year. Since you will not be able to listen to your radio when electricity goes out, keep a battery-powered radio and extra batteries for it on hand. Listen to your battery powered radio for updates and/or instructions on what to do next.
Even though it is tempting to replace all your old corded land line phones with cordless phones, resist the urge. It is best to keep at least one old corded standard phone on hand. They don’t require electricity in order to make or receive calls. Remember, your cell phone will eventually need to be charged and if you have nowhere to go to plug it in, you need to rely on your old standard phone.
To prevent food loss, keep an appliance thermometer in the freezer. If the freezer is 40 degrees F or colder when the power returns, then you know all the food is safe. Make sure the battery in your smoke detector is fresh. Test the smoke detector to make sure it’s working. These are all things you can do in advance.
There are additional things you should do right up to the moment when you have ample warning that a severe storm or tornado is pending. Fill up as many containers and pitchers with water as you can and make extra ice. Go get gas – it is important to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full.
Be sure to only use candles that are contained or inside a glass globe during the storm. Never use open flame candles for emergency lighting, and if possible, use flashlights or battery operated lanterns to keep rooms you are in adequately lit.
Make sure your television is off and turn off or disconnect any other appliances, equipment or electronics that were on when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace. Be sure to leave one light on so you know when the power returns.
Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer, especially during summer months. This will help keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage. After the storm has passed and electricity is back on, do not refreeze any dairy products, seafood or food that has thawed most of the way. If there is any doubt, throw it out. Do not keep food that has a strange odor or looks discolored.
If you own a generator, use it wisely. If you have a portable generator, only run it outside with adequate ventilation. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide which are poisonous and can be deadly if inhaled.
When you first leave the house, be watchful and alert to any downed power lines and avoid them at all costs. Keep an eye on large tree limbs that look like they may be broken or damaged.
Preparing yourself and your home by following the above procedures will help you “weather” the ill effects of a threatening storm should you lose power in your home. Taking these steps well in advance will help you remain “calm” in the eye of a storm, knowing you have done what is necessary to be prepared.
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