Power Outages

In our modern society we tend to take for granted the availability of electrical power and other utilities. However it is important to remember that these conveniences can and do sometimes fail. Thinking ahead and being prepared is important. It is important to have battery powered light sources and radios available, charged, and in good working order. In addition, prolonged power outages bring unique issues to consider.

For instance ...

Food Safety

If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then food in your refrigerator and freezer should be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours:
  • Freezer: A freezer half full will hold food safely up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
  • Refrigerator: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
Use a digital quick-response thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food with a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medication Safety

Contact your pharmacist to discuss refrigeration requirements for your medications. Having this information on hand could eliminate concerns at the time of a crisis.

Powered Oxygen Systems And Other Electrical Medical Equipment

Those individuals who rely on power oxygen systems should remember to keep reserve oxygen cylinders available in the event of a prolonged outage. In the event all reserves are expended these individuals should allow ample time for transport to an appropriate facility able to continue their oxygen therapy. For other specialized electrically powered medical devices be sure backup batteries (where available) are charged and in good working order. And as with oxygen, have an immediate backup plan set well in advance in the event of power failures.

Power Line Hazards And Automobiles

If a power line falls on a car, you should STAY INSIDE THE VEHICLE. This is the safest place for you. Warn people not to touch the car or the line.

The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving the vehicle is if the vehicle catches on fire. Do not step out of the car. Instead, jump free of the car so your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with BOTH FEET on the ground. Do not try helping someone else out of the car while you're standing on the ground.

Call 911 as soon as possible for assistance.

For more information on preparing for and safety during power outages please visit the CDC's power outage information web page.