Severe weather – like Hurricane Sandy last fall – is just one cause of power outages. A power outage can be caused by vehicle accidents or equipment failure. Regardless of the reason, this month – that is, National Preparedness Month – reminds everyone of the need to be prepared.
“There are many situations in our everyday lives that require us to know how to respond. Being prepared helps us react in a safer and smarter way,” said Diane Coffin, manager of Emergency Preparedness for PPL Electric Utilities. “This month, and all year long, we want all those who live and work in our service territory to know what to do when emergencies strike.”
Coffin said knowing what to do in various situations is important, be it a power outage caused by a severe storm, a house fire, vehicle accident, or some other unplanned event.
“Make this month the time you make up the family emergency plan you’ve been putting off or put together that storm kit you’ve been meaning to get to,” Coffin said. “Be prepared. It’s not just a motto for the Boy Scouts of America. It’s something that will serve us all well.”
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Remember batteries for your flashlight!
Preparing for a power outage
In the event of an incoming storm, you do have some notice and can take certain precautions. * The food in your refrigerator is generally good for about two hours without electric. In the event of a longer power outage, the American Red Cross suggests surrounding the food in the freezer and fridge with ice. A thermostat will also let you perform a quick quality check. * Keep a supply of water for drinking, bathing and cleaning. The standard recommendation is one gallon per person per day. A three day supply is suggested if evacuating. However, if sequestering in place, it suggested to have a two week supply on hand. * Make sure now before the power goes out that you have batteries for the radio and flashlight. Extra batteries are a good idea. * Keep some extra cash on hand. If the power is out, your bank may not be open and in addition, ATM machines will not be operating. * Power outages will also affect electric garage door openers and gates to gated communities. Be sure you know how to manually open the garage door and any gates. * Like the ATM machines, gas tanks may not work if there is no power. If you have some warning – like in a hurricane – top off your car’s tank.
Never run a generator inside.
During an outage:
Most preparedness tips are simply common sense. If the power goes out, use the food in the fridge before turning to the freezer. The more times you open the doors to either, the more cool air you will let out. According to the American Red Cross, an unopened fridge will keep foods cold for up to four hours; the freezer will keep food cold for up to 48 hours. * Unplug appliances, like computers and stereos, so that when the power does come back on, the appliances will not be affected and damaged by a sudden surge of electricity. * Turn off all appliances, but leave one light on so you can tell when power is restored. * Traffic signals will not be working. Travel only if necessary. * Never use a generator inside. Be prepared also that generators use a good deal of fuel. * If you are using emergency candles, be sure they are secure. Do not set the candle holder on the floor where a pet or child could knock it over.
Power outages can happen for many reasons.
Part of an emergency plan is recovery. Report any downed power lines to your utility company as well as your local emergency management. * Check the food in your fridge and the freezer, if the power has been out for an extended period of time. If you are not sure if the food is still good, throw it. It is always better to be safe than sorry. * Once the power does return, do not immediately plug everything in and turn everything on. The power may fluctuate for awhile or even go on and off a couple times before staying on for good. * Check your appliances. Take note of any that took damage from the power outage and surges. * Report any damages to appliances or to your home in general to your insurance company. Take photos of any damage. * Finally, once the dust settles, use the experience to reevaluate your emergency plans.