Are You Prepared for the Next Power Outage?

stormy tree- courtesy clip art  Major weather events bring to mind the need to keep ourselves and our loved ones as safe as possible during bad storms, no matter where we live. Of course, it’s important to plan ahead as much as possible AND it’s also important to have an awareness of how to proceed when we’re caught totally unprepared. We’ve compiled the following tips to help.

  1. Assemble an emergency kit. Have these items on hand and make sure they can last for at least 72 hours: a flashlight; batteries; a portable radio; at least one gallon of water per person per day; non-perishable foods such as canned goods and granola bars; a can opener; an extra set of clothes; durable shoes; blankets; items to help pass the time, such as a deck of cards; and a first aid kit that includes prescription drugs as needed.
  2. Take special steps if you have special needs. Do you rely on life-support equipment or other power-dependent equipment to maintain your health? If so, register with your utility company so your home will be treated as a top priority in the event of a power outage. You also should put a plan in place, possibly involving an emergency standby generator for your home or an arrangement to stay at a health-care facility that has backup power. If you don’t have special needs but can think of someone in your area who might, offer your assistance.
  3. Keep your refrigerated food safe. If the power goes out, try not to open your refrigerator or freezer doors. You don’t want to lose cold air unnecessarily. The contents of a full fridge should keep for about six hours; the contents of a full freezer should last as long as two days. Throw away any food items that become warmer than 41 degrees. Don’t taste foods to see whether they’re OK. If you’re in doubt about a food item, throw it out.
  4. Avoid shock and electrocution. Never do any of these things: operate a generator in rainy or wet conditions; touch a generator with wet hands; get near or touch downed or sagging power lines outside; or engage in an extremely dangerous practice known as “back feeding,” which involves connecting a generator to your home’s wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet without the use of an appropriate power transfer switch.
  5. Protect yourself from hypothermia. Hypothermia sets in when a person’s body temperature plummets. Symptoms include uncontrolled shivering, slow or unclear speech, extreme tiredness, difficulty walking, confusion, semi-consciousness or unconsciousness. If the temperature in your home starts to drop too low, wear layers of warm clothing and warm coverings for your head, hands and feet.
  6. 6. Steer clear of carbon-monoxide poisoning. Most people who are sickened or killed by carbon monoxide were exposed to the odorless fumes when they operated charcoal grills, camping stoves or generators inside their dark, cold homes. Never burn charcoal or use gasoline- or propane-powered equipment inside your home. Don’t even do it in your garage or on your porch. Use such equipment only when you’re completely outdoors.
  7. Know when to say when. No one wants to leave the security of his or her own home, but sometimes you must do just that. If the power remains out for days, relocate to the home of a friend or relative who still has electricity or go to an emergency shelter. Most shelters will have power, heat, food, water, bedding, extra clothing and anything else that you and your family will need to stay alive.
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