With all the storms brewing around us recently, we thought it might be a good time to remind you how to prepare for and deal with a power outage. Power outages are a year-round concern, but taking extra caution as the winter months approach is always a good idea. Here are some tips for weathering a blackout.
If an outage lasts for two hours or less, you don’t need to be concerned about your perishable food. During longer outages, grab a cooler, or buy an inexpensive styrofoam one to have on hand, and fill it with ice and the food you’re worried about losing. Cooler temperatures help preserve food longer.
An unopened fridge will keep food cold for around four hours. An unopened freezer can keep food cold anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. The key is to keep the doors closed as much as possible.
Create a kit (it doesn’t all actually have to fit inside one box) filled with items to help you get through the outage. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the items are. Here’s what the blackout box should have in it:
— Water: 1 gallon per person, per day
— Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (think granola, protein bars, dried fruit, crackers, dry cereal, nuts, and canned beans)
— Flashlights and extra batteries: Avoid using candles if you can since they can be dangerous.
— First-aid kit: A prepackaged one can be bought at any local drugstore and many supermarkets.
— Medications: If you or a family member requires medication, makes sure to have a few days supply on hand.
— Multi-purpose tool: A Swiss Army knife is a very functional buy.
— Sanitation and personal hygiene items: Toilet paper, paper towels, and other necessary items should always be stocked up.
— Emergency contact information: Create a list of personal emergency contact numbers as well as numbers for local emergency centers.
— Bonus: Solar-panel charger: If you have one of these, it can really come in handy, even if it’s just powerful enough to keep a phone charged.
DURING A POWER OUTAGE
— Turn off and unplug any sensitive electrical equipment. Surges and spikes can cause harm when the power comes back on.
— Leave at least one light turned on so you know when the power returns.
— Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car, since traffic lights will likely be out and roads will be overcrowded.
— Be extremely careful with carbon monoxide. Never use a generator, grill, or any other propane gas, natural gas, or charcoal-burning products inside your home.
For more information on how to deal with power outages, as well as floods, fires, and other inclement weather, visit the American Red Cross website.
A version of this article appeared first on the Ebby Halliday blog.