Outage Preparation

  • Flashlight - Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy. Do not use candles in a power outage or other emergency. Camp lights and lanterns may also be useful, however, do not use kerosene lanterns indoors unless you have proper ventilation.

  • Appliances Electronics - Turn off or disconnect any appliances or electronics you were using when the power went out. Unplug your computer to avoid the possibility of surge damage when the power returns. More tips to protect your computer and electronics.

  • Leave light on - Leave one light turned on so you'll know when your power returns.

  • Staying warm - If you're cold, put on layers of warm clothing instead. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.

  • Refrigerators and freezers - Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.

    • Frozen food - If your freezer is full, food will stay frozen for about two days. If it is less than half full, food will stay frozen for about one day. Cover the freezer with blankets, quilts or sleeping bags to further insulate the freezer and help food stay frozen longer. After power is restored, check all frozen foods to determine the extent of thawing. Dispose of any food that is discolored or smells spoiled. If in doubt, throw it out.

    • Refrigerated food - To avoid losing the cold air in your refrigerator, don't open doors unnecessarily. Meat and fish spoil quickly at temperatures above 40 degrees F. Other quick-spoiling foods include milk, custards, creamed foods and any foods containing mayonnaise or eggs. Cooked and cured meat will keep for several days in a closed refrigerator. Hard cheeses keep well, even at room temperature. Again, if in doubt, throw it out. You might also try placing bags of ice in the refrigerator, or place food in a cooler or ice chest.

  • Cooking during an outage
    Never use charcoal briquettes to cook or heat food indoors. Charcoal briquettes produce carbon monoxide. Odorless and colorless, a buildup of carbon monoxide can be deadly.

Protecting your home computer and other electronics:

If you have a home computer, it's good idea to protect your work before any outage. Rule one is to remember to save your files regularly. Auto-save back-up programs will do the work for you and are available at any computer store.

You should also install a surge protector on your home computer and other electronics such as TV's, DVR's, DVD players, home entertainment systems, stereos and other similar electronics. Don't confuse a power strip with a surge protector - good surge protectors (also known as transitory volt suppresser) cost about $60, and they will protect your computer and other electronics from surges associated with any sort of power disturbance.

They are available at most office supply, computer and home improvement stores. You might want to also consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS is a battery back-up system that supplies power for about 15 minutes - long enough for you to save all work and shut the computer down. You can find a UPS at most office supply or computer stores. Make sure it is UL-1778 listed, and be aware that you cannot use a UPS to power a printer or copier.

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