Losing Electrical Power

What to do 1st
When the power goes out, check to see if your neighbors have power. The power loss may be only in your home due to a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. If your neighbors are also without power, call your local power company.

If you must go outside to assess the situation, take a flashlight and watch for downed power lines that could still be energized. If downed lines are located, do not go near them or touch anything that they may in contact with. Report downed lines immediately.

Use flashlights or battery operated lanterns for lighting. Candles and kerosene lanterns are not recommended for lighting because of fire hazards.

Turn off all major appliances. When major appliances such as refrigerators, electric water heaters, air conditioning, or pumps are left on they could overload electric lines when power is restored, causing a second outage.

Gas Appliances
Be aware that gas appliances may not work if the electricity is off because the equipment may require electricity for ignition or valve operation.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. During the winter, you may be able to store some items outside in proper containers. If temperatures are below freezing, it is possible to freeze water outside in containers and place them inside your refrigerator to keep food cold.

Try to consume perishable foods first. When in doubt about the quality of the food, throw it out.

Use portable generators cautiously. They can be used to provide limited electrical power during an outage, but take care to ensure they do not pose a threat to you and your family.

Never fuel or run a portable generator in your home or garage as gas powered generators pose a serious fire and carbon monoxide threat. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, and call your local power company for more information.

If you depend on a well or cistern for your water supply, be prepared to use an alternate source of water until power is restored. These systems usually use electric pumps which may not operate when the power is out.

Drain pumps, supply lines, water heaters, boilers, and traps in drains of tubs, sinks, commodes, washing machines, and dishwashers. Plumbing can freeze when the power is lost during cold weather periods.

To avoid flooding when the temperatures rise, turn off supply lines to outside spigots. Water heaters that are drained to prevent damage from freezing must have the power circuits shut off as well.

Life Support Equipment
List life support equipment required for family members who depend on these devices (respirators, ventilators, oxygen equipment, or other life-sustaining devices) with the power company. You should have a contingency plan that always includes an alternate power source for the device and relocating the person.