Without Power? What to Do in a Blackout

With Hurricane Sally making landfall and with recent rolling power outages due to the Arizona and California wildfires, you may be wondering what to do in the event you are left without power. Here are some tips from On Q Financial on how to prepare when you might lose electricity in your home!

Follow Government Guidelines

In an emergency, federal or local governments will issue guidelines to their citizens to ensure their safety. Before following any tips in this article, find out if there are any emergency orders for your area, such as evacuation orders. Your safety is the number one priority even above your home. Make sure you take heed of any government recommendations.

Will You Stay in Your Home?

If there are no evacuation recommendations, and you will be staying in your home, or if you have been informed, your area will be participating in “rolling blackouts,” your first instinct may be to stockpile supplies.

Should You Be Stockpiling?

stockup foodIn general, you will not need to stockpile or hoard any supplies. In the case of a shelter-in-place order, you may not be able to keep your regular grocery schedule, so the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends keeping at least three days’ worth of food and water in your home at all times.

Most important is not to “panic buy.” As we all experienced during the initial scare of the COVID-19 pandemic, people gravitated towards items that made them more comfortable such as toilet paper. But as we also saw, the supply chain, although strained, never failed, and grocery stores continued stocking their shelves. What about the food already in your home, you ask? Won’t food in your fridge spoil in an extended power outage?

What to Do with Cold and Frozen Foods

Fridges and freezers will keep their temperature for a few hours if kept sealed. If you know the blackout will only be for a couple of hours, you may not need to move your food out of your fridge. However, if you keep a lot of frozen or cold foods that would expire if left at room temperature for extended periods, you may want to invest in an emergency freezer that plugs into your car. Though, for most households, a couple of ice chests would be sufficient to keep food safe in a blackout event. You may also want to prioritize eating that food first before digging into the rest of your stock!

What Can You Do About Lighting?

Flash light when power goes outPerhaps the most pertinent question when preparing for a blackout is whether you will have a light source. One item that you may want to stock up on year-round is candles. Simple non-scented candles can be found at many dollar stores and can be an excellent light source in a blackout. However, if you have small children or pets, candles can present a fire hazard, so it’s good to keep a few flashlights on hand. Don’t forget to check the flashlights periodically and replace the batteries if needed.

Do You Have Electronic Medical Devices

If you have a medical device that requires electricity, you may want to discuss a power outage plan with your doctor. It may be necessary to have a backup generator or a battery-powered version of your device if available.

What If You Live in Extreme Temperatures?

Extreme temperatures can quickly become dangerous in the event of a power outage. A blackout would likely trigger an evacuation order to a specified location that can be temperature controlled like a school or stadium in these areas. However, if the power outage is limited to a neighborhood or just your home, you may want to reach out to a friend or family member who is not affected and stay with them during the outage. It’s crucial that you not attempt to use a gas stove or heater indoors in extremely cold climates. Heating your home with a gas appliance is extremely dangerous and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

What Can You Do During a Blackout?

Many of us rely heavily on electronic devices to keep us entertained, whether smartphones, televisions or computers. For some, being without power for extended periods may seem daunting. But, there are plenty of ways to stay entertained!

Here are some ideas:
⦁ Read a book or magazine
⦁ Play cards or a board game
⦁ Take a walk (if not an emergency)
⦁ Tell stories
⦁ Do some cleaning
⦁ Take a nap

It’s also a good idea to purchase battery backup charges for smart devices and phones and keep them changed during a blackout. Be sure to also unplug necessary devices as returning electricity could cause damage due to a power surge.

Be Prepared

Most importantly, you should be prepared before a power outage. Ready.gov has a variety of resources to make sure you are ready for any emergency. You won’t always know when a blackout is coming, so take some precautions now to be prepared for when it does!

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About the Author

Before opening On Q Financial in 2005, John Bergman originated and funded 450 units a year as a loan officer. He founded the company with just $1M of personal life savings—committed to his vision for building the best independent mortgage organization in the industry.

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