How to Stay Safe Without Power


When the power surges and the lights go out for a few minutes – or even an hour or two – we usually suffer little more than a temporary inconvenience.

But what if you’re the victim of an extended power outage? Safety issues become more serious the longer you go without power. Follow these steps from Consumer Reports (CR) to get you through the outage.

Put it on paper. While your cell phone is your normal life line to important phone numbers, passwords, banking information, etc., in an extended outage, you won’t have access to it for long, so transfer critical data to paper before your battery runs out. In the meantime, switch to power-saving mode to extend your battery life as long as possible.

Use gas to cook food before it spoils. Provided your home hasn’t suffered any damage, it’s probably still safe to cook on your gas range, however, you’ll need to light the burner with a match or lighter. Your gas grill is another option. But first things first: make sure the food in your fridge is safe to eat. According to CR, food can maintain a safe temperature for about four hours, so be sure to cook any perishables within this time period. A full freezer should stay cold for about 48 hours; a half freezer, for 24 hours. FYI, many homeowners insurance policies will cover the replacement cost of spoiled food.

Follow proper guidelines when using generators. Not using a generator properly puts you at high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Operate the generator as far from the house as possible – at least 20 feet, says CR, and direct the exhaust away from doors and windows.

If you don’t have a generator, unplug all appliances, to prevent potential electrical damage. You can also shut off the main circuit breaker. When power lines are damaged, there can be a spike or surge in the line; unplugging appliance prevents damage from a power surge when power is restored.

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