Tags: ways | keep | family | safe | power outage

7 Ways to Keep Your Family Safe During a Power Outage

By    |   Tuesday, 24 October 2017 11:12 AM

Between aging power grids, storms, and fires, power outages are becoming far more prevalent across the United States.

Short outages usually don’t cause too much of an inconvenience, but extended power outages could be devastating.

According to the Edison Electric Institute, 70 percent of power outages in America are caused by weather conditions. When Hurricane Irma hit in September, it left 6.5 million people in Florida without electricity, a Vox article reported.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, according to The Washington Post, 3.4 million people have been without power for more than 30 days after Hurricane Maria.

With these numbers, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few ways to keep your family safe during a power outage:

1. Be prepared —The Department of Homeland Security urges Americans to plan ahead for an emergency.

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One of its suggestions is to build an emergency preparedness kit, which should include a first aid kit, a flashlight, extra batteries, and cash. Preparedness Mama adds a battery-operated or hand crank radio to the list, while NBC News' "Today" suggests making sure you have at least one gallon of water per person, prescription medication, blankets, and something like a deck of cards to help pass the time.

Other ways to prepare for a power outage, according to the Department of Homeland Security, are to make sure your cellphones are charged, make sure your gas tank is full, and make sure you have ice to keep frozen or refrigerated food cold.

It’s also a good idea to find out what the official emergency plans are for your community.

2. Consider alternative light sourcesPower Generation Inc. advises you steer clear of candles, a common source of light, as they could easily be blown over and cause a fire.

The most obvious alternative would be a flashlight or any other battery-operated device, but a solar-powered light would also do the trick.

3. Stay off the roads— While it may be tempting to go in search of power elsewhere, EMC Security warns that streetlights and traffic lights won’t be working, making travelling by car dangerous.

The Energy Education Council points out that downed power lines, debris, and stray wires are another concern, as these all have the power to shock you.

The only time you should consider moving from the comfort of your home, according to the Department of Homeland Security, is in instances of extreme heat where you may need to find an air-conditioned place that’s open to the community, or when the power is down long enough for you to run out of supplies. In this case it may be wiser to move to a friend or relative's house where there is power.

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4. Keep generators outside— If you’ve invested in a portable generator, now would be a good time to use it, but do so outdoors. Like fires, generators come with the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Red Cross suggests always following the instructions that came with your generator to make sure you’re using it safely.

It’s also important to never overload a generator and to never try to power your home completely. When plugged into your home’s wiring, a generator can cause “backfeeding” that could result in electrocution.

5. Keep food safety in mind— When the power goes out, your fridges and freezers stop working and some food may not be safe to eat once it’s been warm for too long.

Community Table says you can prepare for this by using Ziplock bags and soda bottles filled with water to make extra ice packs.

If you know a power outage is coming, you could freeze some of your refrigerator items like dairy and meat, but if not, simply try not to open the fridge or freezer.

According to Community Table, a fridge will hold its temperature for up to 48 hours if left unopened, but you’ll want to throw perishables away once they get any warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have time to prepare for a power outage, FoodSafety.gov recommends stocking up on non-perishables and ready-to-eat meals, as you won’t have electricity to cook.

6. Turn off your appliances — The first thing you should do when the power goes out is turn off and unplug all your electric appliances.

According to the Red Cross, these could cause power surges or spikes, which could damage equipment or even cause fires when the power comes back on.

Preparedness Mama adds that this includes the breaker to your water and your thermostat —unless yours is gas-powered. 

7. Keep a light on — The Red Cross suggests leaving one light on in your home so you’ll know straight away when your power has been restored.

Preparedness Mama adds that this is also a great way for utility company crews to know when your electricity is back up and running.

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Between aging power grids, storms, and fires, power outages are becoming far more prevalent across the United States.
ways, keep, family, safe, power outage
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 11:12 AM
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