A power outage
is more than an inconvenience; it can lead to expensive repairs and may even be
dangerous to you and your family. These tips will help you protect yourself,
your wallet and maintain some conveniences in a blackout.
Carbon monoxide is a major threat in the aftermath of a power outage. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector has fresh batteries and be sure to run generators outdoors, away from your home.
Tip 1: Prepare
for power surges
utility companies work to restore power, the whole grid becomes unstable. And
that leads to power surges, which can destroy electronics. So unplug and switch
off everything in your home. Leave one light on so you'll know when the power
Tip 2: Bring
solar lights inside
landscape lights provide hours of low-level lighting, so you can spare your
flashlight batteries for tasks that require more light. And unlike candles,
they won't burn down your house. Don't forget to set your landscape lights outside to recharge
during the day.
Tip 3: Beware
of carbon monoxide
monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced whenever anything burns—and it
often sickens or kills people during power outages. Don't run generators or
grills inside garages or outside near open windows. Make sure your carbon
monoxide detector is working, and replace the batteries if needed.
Tip 4: Keep
the freezer closed
most freezers, food will stay frozen for one to three days and below 40 degrees
F for another couple of days. As a reminder, tape a "do not open" sign to the
Tip 5: Fill
the lights go out, there's a good chance that municipal water will stop flowing
soon after. Fill the bathtub, sinks and buckets so you have a supply for
washing, drinking and flushing the toilet. Also remember that you have 40
gallons or more stored in your water heater.
Tip 6: Release
the garage door
with a dead opener, you can still open and close the garage door. You'll find a
rope or cord hanging from the arm that connects the door to the opener rail.
With the door in the closed position, yank that cord to disconnect the door
from the opener and you'll be able to raise or lower the door by hand.
Tip 7: Heat
the house with your water heater
furnace won't work when the power goes out, but your water heater might (if
it's a gas model without power venting). Fill sinks and tubs with hot water and
then drain them when the water reaches room temperature. This may not keep your
home comfortable, but it may make it bearable.
Tip 8: Charge
with your car
it's time to recharge your phone or tablet, don't forget your car. The battery
holds plenty of power to charge mobile devices.
Tip 9: Prepare
indoor temperatures are approaching freezing, avoid burst pipes by draining
your plumbing system. Turn off the main water supply valve, open the lowest
valve in the house (often the water heater drain valve or an outdoor hose bib).
Then open other faucets to allow air into the system as pipes drain. Plunge
toilets, sink and bath drains to clear water from the traps. Finally, plug
those drains to keep sewer gases from rising into the house.
Tip 10: Don't
pose a double risk: You're more likely to get hurt during a blackout and less
likely to get immediate, thorough emergency care. You may fall down stairs in
the dark or have a nasty chain saw accident during storm cleanup. If you need
help, you may find that emergency rooms are swamped or ambulances are slowed by
dead traffic lights or fallen trees. Even more than at other times, think
before you act during a blackout.
— The Editors of The