In our first power outage post, we covered what to do immediately after your electricity goes out. But what happens when the lights are out for more than a couple of hours?
Never fear—we’ve put together some helpful tips for when your power doesn’t return immediately.
1. Be Careful with Emergency Lighting
If the power doesn’t come back on after two or three hours, you’ll need to watch what you use and how you use it. This applies to almost everything in your home, but especially to emergency lighting. You’ll likely use battery-powered or rechargeable light sources, such as flashlights and lanterns, which means that you should probably stock up on batteries, taking care to buy the right sizes. Not only that, but you’ll want to stay away from candles because, left unattended, they can cause house fires.
2. Tend to Refrigerated Food
Once you have your emergency lighting on lock, you’ll want to think of your food situation. Food requiring refrigeration will usually stay cold in a closed refrigerator for roughly four hours, while a closed freezer will typically maintain cooler temperatures for around forty-eight hours. To elongate your refrigerated food’s shelf life, have a couple of coolers on hand, transfer your food to them when it starts to warm up, and then pack ice around your food.
If there’s any doubt as to the staying power of certain food, use a digital quick-response thermometer to check its internal temperature so that you don’t accidently eat something you shouldn’t.
3. Adjust for Weather Conditions
During the heat of a sweltering summer day or the chill of a frigid winter night, you’ll need to adequately account for extreme weather when your power is out.
Keeping Cool in Hot Weather
First off, let’s see how you can stay cool when it’s hot outside during a major outage. It’s pretty simple, really—we recommend that you move to a cooler area either inside or nearby your home. Remember, cool air sinks, so the basement will be one of the coolest places. Once you’ve relocated, stay hydrated, keep out of the sun, and wear light, comfortable clothing.
Keeping Warm in Cold Weather
When it’s cold out, you’ll want to get to a warm place either inside your house or at a nearby location. If you stay home, don’t use charcoal to heat or cook indoors, but rather stick to fires in dedicated, wood-burning fireplaces. Also, don’t use your oven as a heating source, as both gas and charcoal emit poisonous gases when burned. Finally, whether you stay home or not, insulate your body by layering warm clothing and blankets.
4. Operate Your Generator Safely
If you’re planning on purchasing a generator for your house, be sure that you select the right generator and that it’s connected properly. Generators require advanced electrical work, a sophisticated knowledge of plumbing, and an understanding of local building codes, so it’s probably a good idea to get professional installation. Once you settle on your generator, you’ll also want to be sure that you know how to operate it safely.
Avoiding Toxic Fumes
If you purchase a portable generator, it’s important that you never run it indoors, as the fumes produced by burning fossil fuels are toxic. This includes garages, basements, crawlspaces, and even partially-enclosed spaces like carports. Also, keep your generator away from windows, doors, and other openings like vents, because fumes can enter your home if they’re left open. In any case, if you ever feel sick, light-headed, or lethargic while using a generator, leave the area right away.
You’ll also want to keep a watchful eye out for fire hazards. Some quick and easy tips to avoid fires include turning your generator off and allowing it cool before refueling; storing fuel in an appropriate safety can; and using the exact type of fuel recommended by your generator’s manufacturer. Fires can start when you store fuel next to central heating and air units, electric or gas-powered water heaters, or other heat-producing household items. To store generator fuel properly, lock it away in a shed or other secured area away from your home.
When excessive water is involved, you’ll want to take into account electric connections and conductivity around your generator. Avoid electrocution by keeping your generator dry and not starting it up under wet conditions. Protect your generator from creeping moisture by operating it on a dry surface—such as a concrete slab—under an open structure like a suspended tarp or large umbrella. Whether you’re under an open-air structure or not, don’t ever touch your generator if your hands are wet.
5. Navigate Your Town with Care
When your home doesn’t have power, chances are that parts of your town won’t have it either. Traffic lights and public transportation, among other things, might be adversely affected by the outage. We suggest that you eliminate unnecessary travel around your town.
If you end up leaving your home, don’t touch any power lines, and report downed wires to city officials and your utility provider. In the case of natural disasters, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with alternate routes and follow recommended evacuation routes out of town.
Now that you have a better idea of what to do first during a power outage, don’t forget to read more on the Amigo Energy Blog, which features safety tips geared toward major power outages and more.
When your lights go out for more than a couple of hours, don’t worry, just use our power outage tips and feel empowered. If you missed our first post on what to do immediately during a power outage, read it here to find out who to contact about power outages in Texas. And, when the lights do come back on, don’t forget to check back in with the Amigo Energy Blog for more energy tips.