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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Power Outage Priorities & Tips

Power Outage Priorities & Tips

Power outages can happen at any time to anyone in any place. Extended power outages can be scary and dangerous if you are not prepared, especially in times of extreme cold or heat, but if you are prepared before hand and know what your priorities are, the danger can be eliminated and the time even enjoyed. After all, if the power is out, you can stay home with your family and spend some quality time together. Below are the top three priorities and some tips to help you and your family be safe, secure, and comfortable when the power goes out.

#1: Protect Yourself & Family
The first thing you need to worry about in a power outage is the safety and health of yourself, your family, and any other individuals in your home or neighborhood. Here are some tips for keeping you and your family safe:



If there are damaged power lines in your vicinity, DO NOT go near them, call your utility company or 9-1-1 immediately.


Check on any friends or neighbors that may require electrically powered medical devices and make sure they are OK.


If you have to drive somewhere, be careful. Remember that traffic lights could be inoperable and cause accidents or delays.


If it is dark, be careful. Minimize movement in the dark. Most injuries during power outages occur when people are rummaging around in the dark for something. Hold still and wait for your eyes to adjust, and then get what you need. Keep a dynamo flashlight in an easy to access place, so you don't have to search around for flashlights and batteries.


Warmth & shelter is your number one priority in any emergency. If it is cold outside, put some warm clothes on. Close all doors and windows to maintain a safe temperature inside. Take a hot shower to increase your body temperature if you get too cold, but use hot water sparingly. Most water heaters are insulated and can keep water warm up to three days. If it is hot outside, keep your windows and doors closed until it gets hotter inside than it is outside, then open the windows to increase air circulation.


Generate your own power. Gasoline, solar, or wind generators can be extremely useful during power outages. These devices can be used to power safe electrical heaters or coolers, used to power your refrigerator or freezer, and even for communication devices. There are many options that don't require a significant investment. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are especially useful because fuel supply for gasoline generators can be scarce in times of emergency and it is not feasible or sometimes not even legal to store large amounts of fuel to run generators for extended periods of time.


Don't poison yourself with carbon monoxide. Don't use combustion fume producing devices inside your home without proper ventilation. Things like small gasoline engines, generators, lanterns, gas ranges or ovens, burning charcoal and wood, charcoal grills, hibachis, lanterns, or portable camping stoves can produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide gases. Prepare yourself before hand with carbon monoxide detectors in your home and a safe way to heat or cool your home in the event of a power outage.


Make sure your water is safe. Power outages can also disable local water treatment and could cause your drinking water to be unsafe. Prepare yourself before hand with bottled water, a water filter or purifier, or a way to chemically treat your own water. Our MIOX water purifier makes the same technology many municipal water treatment centers use available to you and your family in cases of emergency.


Make a plan to communicate with or locate your family members that might not be home. Have a standard corded phone available to use. Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Cell phones will usually work, but local towers may be without power or necessary communication lines may have been damaged as well. Your cell phone battery might be dead or low, so prepare yourself with a dynamo cell phone charger.


If the power outage was caused by an electrical storm, don't use corded phones unless you absolutely need to. Lightning has been known to strike and travel along phone lines injuring persons using corded phones.


Know where your switch box, fuse box, or breaker box is located. Know how to reset the circuit breaker or safely change a fuse, and keep proper spares on hand.

#2: Protect Your Food Supply
After you and your loved ones are safe, the next thing you need to worry about is your food. If the power outage lasts for an extended period of time, you will need to keep any perishable food from going bad, and know when food is not safe to eat. Here are some tips to keep your food edible and know when not to eat it:


Prepare yourself with an emergency stove to heat water and cook your food without electricity.


Keep a supply of shelf-stable food such as freeze-dried food or dehydrated food to use if your perishable food runs out before the power returns. These foods, especially freeze-dried food, will require little or no preparation or cooking to eat and will stay safe without refrigeration.


Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If the power is out for 2 hours or less, the food in your refrigerator is fine. If it is out for more than two hours, then remember that food in a half-full freezer will be safe for 24 hours, and food in a full freezer will be safe for 48 hours. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of food before you eat or cook it. If it is more than 40 degrees, then it is possibly not safe to eat.


Use the ice from your freezer and a cooler or thermos to pack any milk, dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable food. This will keep it safe longer than in your refrigerator. If you don't have enough space in your freezer or ice-packed thermos, eat the food that will spoil first.


#3: Protect Your Belongings
Power outages are most often caused by electrical storms or other storms causing damage to the power transmission lines. Continuing electrical storm activity or surges in the grid when power is restored can cause damage to electrical devices. Here are some tips to prevent damage and the need for costly repairs.


Make sure all of your electrical devices including kitchen appliances, computers, stereos, clocks, televisions and dvd players, modems, wireless routers, and phones are plugged into a surge protector before a power outage occurs. This includes communication lines such as phone lines and internet cables as well. Power surges can travel through these lines and irreparably damage devices. Power surges will most likely occur when the power goes out, so these surge protectors should protect you from damage.


Power surges can occur when the power comes back on as well, so it is wise to unplug all electrical and communication cables from devices until the power comes back on, especially those not connected to a surge protector.

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