How to Protect Your Home During Power Outages

Losing power is an unfortunate fact of life. During a storm, it is very likely that your electricity will go out. It can also happen due to humanmade causes, like someone running into a power pole. Is your home protected from power outages? Everyone should know the dangers involved in a power outage, and what you can do to prepare.

What Are Some Dangers One May Face During a Power Outage in the Home?

When the electricity is out, the world runs very differently. Things you take for granted, like heating or cooling, can disappear. There are dangers you need to beware of during a power outage.

  • Fire- Be sure to use flashlights only instead of candles to avoid the risk of fire.
  • Spoiled Food- It’s important not to become ill on food that has gone bad. Most food that needs refrigeration is ok for up to four hours in an unopened refrigerator. Things in the freezer will stay cold for up to 48 hours if you keep the door closed.
  • Overheating- In intense heat, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses are a real danger. If you must stay in your home, go to the lowest floor, wear lightweight clothing, and drink plenty of water. If possible, go to a “cooling station” where they have air conditioning, like a mall.
  • Freezing- On the opposite end of the spectrum, losing power in the winter in cold climates can be deadly. Dress warmly or move to another location, like a friend’s that has electricity or a local warming station.

How Do You Prepare for Power Outages?

The most important thing you can do to protect your home,  your possessions and your family is to prepare. The more you think ahead, the better off you will be.

Emergency Kit

The first thing to do is make sure you have an adequately stocked emergency preparedness kit. At the minimum, this kit should include the following items:

  • Food– You should have at least a three day supply of food for each person in the household.
  • Water– Water is essential to life and you must make sure there is at least one gallon of water per person per day. You should have at least a three day supply on hand. Remember, this water is for both drinking and sanitation.
  • Flashlight– Try to have one flashlight per person, as well as extra batteries for each flashlight.
  • Radio– You will need to get news from the outside world, and a hand-cranked or battery operated communication is the best way to do that. It is best to have a radio that has an NOAA weather band and a tone alert for emergencies.
  • First Aid Kit– Be sure this is well stocked with pain medications, wound coverings, and a first aid book.
  • Plastic Sheeting and Duct Tape– This is to cover doors and windows in case of contaminants and a shelter-in-place situation.
  • Dust Mask– Have one per person to protect from inhaling contaminants.
  • Can Opener– Make sure you have a manual can opener to open your canned food supplies.
  • Wrench– This is important for turning off utilities.
  • Personal Sanitation Supplies– These include moist towelettes, garbage bags, garbage ties, and feminine supplies. Also pack a brush, toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Have an Alternate Charging Method

Nothing is worse than watching your cell phone’s battery die and knowing you can’t plug it in to charge it. Today, many homes have no land lines, so cell phones are the only means of communication. Have alternate methods of charging your phone like a pre-charged power pack or solar charger.

Keep Gas in the Car

Be sure to keep your car half full of gas at all times. Remember, gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps. You can use your car to charge your cell phone, but remember never to leave a car running inside the garage. Make sure it is always running outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Protect Your Appliances

Damage happens to your appliances, computers, and electrical components not when the power goes out but when it comes back on. For this reason, it’s smart to invest in a surge protector for all your appliances and electronic devices. You can install a surge protector at each point of use, or install a whole house surge protector. Another method is unplugging everything during power outages and plugging it back in after it comes back on. This protects them from the surge in electricity that can happen.

Power outages are easily dealt with, as long as you prepare yourself and your family. Remember, in the event of an electric emergency, call a qualified electrician to perform your service. Never try to deal with electrical wiring yourself. Use the tips above to protect your home, and stay comfortable and secure when the power goes out.