Power Outage Safety

Be familiar with these power outage safety tips so you and your family will be prepared to deal with any sceniaro that arises during a electrical power failure. It is extremely important that precautions are taken during and after the event to ensure everyone's safety.

Power Outage Safety: Food and Water

Water Safety

When power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning fully. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water.

Drop of Water

Your state and local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area during and after a disaster. Watch your local news for a Boil Water Advisory (BWA).

Advisories are issued when an event has occurred which has brought about the possibility of your local water system to become contaminated. An advisory does not mean that the water is contaminated, but rather that it could be contaminated. Because the water quality is unknown, customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink and take the appropriate precautions.

A Boil Water Notice is issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, all customers must boil their water before consuming it or use bottled water.

Food Safety

If your power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. During a power outage keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.

If the power outage lasts longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below:

For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for 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. If you open the door, the cold air escapes and warm air is let in. This causes the food to deteriorate faster.

For the Refrigerator section: If the outage is longer than two hours pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose. it is always beneficial to keep a couple of cheap styrofoam coolers like this on hand just in case. Some areas of the country are more prone to power outages than others. Keep this in mind when you go shopping and pick up a few the next time you are there. It is a quick purchase that really pays off if something happens.

Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the power goes out while you are away from your home

If an outage happens while you're out of the house, try to determine how long it has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with a quick-response thermometer; if it is above 40 degrees, throw it out.

If power comes back on in less than 24 hours and your freezer is fairly full, your food should be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 24 hours, you should get rid of perishables.

Power Outage Safety Begins With YOU!

Additional Considerations

  • If your medical equipment is supplied by a hospital or a durable medical equipment company, work with them to develop an emergency or back-up plan. Some companies may supply additional medical equipment and other services during emergency situations. If you need battery back ups or a portable generator, add this to your emergency preparedness planning. This isn't something you can put "in the back of your mind".

  • Contact your local fire department to identify whether they maintain a list of customers with special medical needs. Being on this list may help them better respond to you during emergencies.

  • Keep emergency telephone numbers handy, including your doctor, police, fire and durable medical equipment company, if you have one. This list should also go in your "bug out bag" or "72 hour kit" or whatever you plan to take with you if you have to evacuate your home.

  • Develop plans to leave your home in the event of a lengthy outage, and share this plan with family, friends, and others that should be aware.

  • Keep a fully charged cell phone on hand. During outages, you may lose phone service, including services from your cordless phone. Make sure you have extra cell phone chargers with you including a solar charger.

  • Have a battery-operated radio or television available to keep abreast of changing conditions. A NOAA radio with a tone alert is the best choice.

Learn First Aid for Electrical Shock

If you believe someone has been electrocuted take the following steps:

  • Do not touch the person. Only look to assess the situation. The person may still be in contact with the electrical source. Touching the person may pass the current through you.
  • Call or have someone else call 9-1-1 immediately. Get emergency medical help on the way as soon as possible.

  • If possible, turn off the source of electricity. If not, safely move the source of electricity away from you and the affected person using a nonconducting object made of cardboard, plastic or wood. If you cannot do this safely, do not do anything. Your safety must come first.
  • If the scene is safe for you and the person who has been electrocuted, check the person's breathing. If you do not see any sign of breathing, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
    If the person is faint or pale or shows other signs of shock, lay the person down with the head slightly lower than the trunk of his or her body and the legs elevated. If you see signs of shock, keep the person warm with a blanket.
  • Do not touch burns, break blisters, or remove burned clothing. Electrical shock may cause burns inside the body. Let medical personnel determine what needs to be done.

Power Line Hazards and Cars

If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call or ask someone to call the local utility company and 9-1-1 or emergency services.

The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car if the car is in contact with a downed power line and the vehicle catches on fire. If that happens, open the car door, but not step out of the car and immediately to the ground. You may receive a shock if you do that. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, keep both feet on the ground at all times and slowly shuffle away for the next 50 feet.

As with all power line-related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 9-1-1, or call your electric utility company's Service Center/Dispatch Office.

***Do not try to help someone else from the car while you are standing on the ground.***