We rely on electricity for all aspects of our lives. When it goes away, so do climate control, food storage and preparation, lights, and many forms of communication. Many times, a large-scale power outage is one of several secondary emergencies following a major disaster like a tornado, winter storm, or earthquake. If power lines are down over a large area, it may take days or even weeks for crews to get the power back on (a fact long-time Lexingtonians will recall from the 2003 and 2009 ice storms). Throughout October, we’ll be looking at ways to prepare for power outages and minimize their impact on our safety and comfort.
As with any other emergency, our response to a power outage gets better if we plan for it. Planning lets us think through actions and make decisions ahead of time, when we have the leisure to do research, experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, and work without other pressures. As part of your overall emergency planning, you can take some small preparedness actions that will pay large dividends in an extended outage.
As part of your normal routine…
Keep power outage information links, apps, and contact numbers on your phone.
If you have empty space in your freezer, fill it with containers of water. Ice warms slower than air does, so a full freezer stays cold longer. This can fill a dual role as part of your emergency water reserve.
Know how to use the manual release on your garage door so you can get your car out of the garage when the automatic opener is inoperable.
Drive off the top half of your car’s gas tank – fill up when the needle is on ½, not E. Gas stations rely on electricity to run their pumps, so you may be unable to get gas during a large-scale outage.
If you have special medical equipment needs like an oxygen generator or dialysis machine, notify your power company. This will help them prioritize restoring power to your home.
Unplug expensive electronics and turn off power strips. Your home may receive power spikes when the power comes back on, which can damage anything that’s plugged in at the time.
Keep food cold. Don’t open freezers or refrigerators any more than necessary.
Stay aware with a battery-powered or hand-cranked/solar emergency radio.