Preparing before the lights go out
Power outages are one of the most common emergencies that occur. They can be caused by storms, accidents in which power lines are knocked down, circuit overloads, etc.
Power failures can last for an extended period of time or for a brief moment, but no matter the length of time, they cause a disruption in everyday life. Power outages have affected almost everyone; it is important to prepare for power failures and to respond safely and effectively. Before your power goes out:
1. Make sure you have an emergency light source in all major rooms in your house such as the kitchen, hallways, family rooms, and bedrooms. Ideas for Emergency light sources can include:
Flashlight with working batteries, Hand crank flashlight, Candles and matches, Oil/Hurricane lamps with oil, Cylumn or Light/glow sticks,
2. Other items that are good to consider having available before a power outage are: Battery or hand crank operated radio, Battery or Wind-up clock, Extra fuses, Manual can opener
3. Prepare your small children beforehand so they are not scared when they are caught in the dark. Warn them of the chances of a power outage and give instructions regarding a meeting place. Show them where they can find a flashlight. You could even carry out a mock power failure so they know what to expect when it really happens.
4. Another concern to consider when the power goes out is heat and water supply. When the power goes out, the furnace will not work. If you have a well and an electric pump powers the supply of your water it will also be cut off in a power outage. Therefore, you may want to prepare your home by having extra blankets, a kerosene heater, or a wood burning stove for heat, and always have water stored for those times.
What to do when your power goes out:
1. When your power goes out, first check to see if your neighbors have power. If you are the only home without electricity, check the main fuse in your electric service panel or fuse box to see if the main circuit breaker has been tripped or if a fuse has blown. If you don’t know how to check, consult a qualified electrician. If your neighbors do not have electricity either, then you know there has been a power outage in your area.
2. Report your power outage to your local utility company so they know which area has lost power, especially in a storm. Only call once to report your outage. Have the number available and know who your provider is. Have it next to the phone, along with your account number.
3. Turn off all major non-essential appliances such as your electric range and washer/dryer. Turn off the majority of your light switches, but leave a few on so you know when the power has been restored. This reduces the electrical demand once the power has been restored.
4. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment such as your TV, personal computer, DVD or VCR and microwave. This will reduce chance of damage caused by electric surges.
5. Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to conserve the cold inside. You never know how long the power will be out, and you don’t want your food to spoil.
6. Open the window shades to allow more light to come in.
Take the time to prepare for a power outage and to gain the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively during the emergency. A few simple preparations can greatly reduce the inconveniences caused by a power outage.
Be cautious with candles and lit flames as this is a major cause of house fires. Never leave a lit flame burning unattended! Watch small children and animals around all lit flames!
Never bring in a propane BBQ or heater to warm up the house! Use propane cooking for the out doors; this includes not using it in a garage! A closed up garage is just like being in a house!
Keep extra matches, water proof and no water proof in the house. Have extra lighters also. Do keep all items away from children. More house fires are caused by children playing with matches and or lighters!
Keep extra batteries for your needs.
Keep your house and rooms clean of items on the floor. You do not want a tripping hazard when it is dark and you can not see. Know your way around your house in the dark. This goes for work and other places that you go on a regular basis. Know how to get around in the dark. Carry a flashlight in your purse, briefcase, at your desk and in the car!
Again this list is not complete. You need to personally adjust and make the choices for you and your family! What will work best for you! then do that. This is just a suggestion.
Info from many sources Emergency Essentials, personal knowledge, Preparedness handbooks.