Skip to main content
Home » Disaster Prep » Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario In a Power Outage
Disaster Prep

Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario In a Power Outage

A power outage can happen any time. Planned or unexpected, it can last for days and may impact needs such as heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooking, and medical equipment.

Power outages can last for days or longer, leaving you without communication, transportation, or even basic necessities like cooking and medical equipment. Fortunately, we can take actions to get ready and taking time to learn what your household should do if the power goes out.

Using generators safely

Safety is your first priority. Never use a generator, outdoor stove, or heater indoors. If you are using a generator, be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.

Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.

What to do about food

Keep your food safe by keeping your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours and 24 hours if it is half full if the door remains closed.

Eat perishable food from the refrigerator first — perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer. Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer. If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and always keep it covered.

Deciding to evacuate

At some point you may have to decide if you should stay or go. Your local officials provide the most important information during emergencies. Sign up to receive free emergency alerts and understand your communities plan to notify individuals of resources that may be available. Evacuate if your home is too hot or too cold, or if you have medical devices that need power. Communities often provide shelters, warming or cooling centers and power charging stations.

Next article