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Tips For Handling A Power Outage

July 7, 2010 · 25 comments

in Home & Garden

This past weekend we experienced a power outage.  It wasn’t real warm outside to justify a ‘brown out’, and there were not any storms, so this power outage was a bit unexpected.  Fortunately, it was midnight, so it wasn’t like I was in the middle of cooking a roast or entertaining.

What was unfortunate is we did not have a flashlight nearby when the lights went out, which meant bumping shins stumbling around the house to find some light.  It was then that I decided to come up with an action plan so we would be prepared for our next power loss.  My tips for handling a power outage are as follows.

  1. Put some ice cubes in a ziploc bag in the freezer today.  When you come home from vacation, check that bag of ice cubes.  If it appears they have melted somewhat and refroze, then consider getting rid of the food in the refrigerator/freezer, as it would appear that the power must have been out for a significant time while you were out of town.
  2. Put a thermometer in the refrigerator so you know the temperature in the fridge when the power resumes.  This will help you determine what to toss out.
  3. This is a no-brainer, but do not open a refrigerator or freezer after you lose power.  A well stocked chest frezer should keep food cold enough for 48 hours without power, and the freezer adjacent to the refrigerator should stay cold enough for 24 hours without power.  (As long as the door was never opened.)  Also, do not open the door to the freezer right when the power comes on, let the freezer run for awhile before opening that door.  The refrigerator has much less time to stay cold.  4-6 hours is about the max a refrigerator can keep things cold without power.  If the power comes back on and the temperature in the fridge is 42 degrees or above, you will want to toss a lot of that food.  (Dairy, cut up melon, meats, eggs, leftovers.)
  4. Keep a flashlight in every room.  May seem extreme, but little flashlights are pretty cheap, and who wants to be trapped in a suddenly dark bathroom??  Also make sure you have a couple battery-operated lanterns.  Lanterns are great if you want to read, play cards, or make shadow puppets because you are so desperate to find something to do.
  5. Make sure there is a clear path to the sump pump if you have one in your basement.  You never know if you are going to end up bailing water out.
  6. Have access to a phone that does not require electricity.  We lost power for a week a couple years ago and I would have been lost without our ‘old fashioned’ phone.
  7. Make sure you have an AM/FM radio of some sort.  A lot of people have Ipods, but not all of them have AM radio.  Some people rely on a radio that is powered from a hand-crank, which is also a good idea.
  8. Have an ample supply of batteries.  Make sure this supply is stocked, and not pilfered for small electronics or toys.
  9. If you do use a generator, make sure it is outside, and not in the garage.  You don’t want to add carbon monoxide poisoning to your list of problems.

What tips do you have for being comfortable and safe during a power outage?  What is the longest amount of time you have lost power?

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