You’re minding your own business when suddenly the power goes out. The lights are gone, and your only working electronics are dependent on how much battery power they have left. If it’s just your neighborhood, your best bet is to sit tight and read a book by candlelight until it’s over. The power company will likely resolve the problem within a few hours, or a day at the most.
However, what if the outage has affected the entire city? It could be days before everything is back up and running. What should you do in the meantime to keep yourself safe? Here are a few emergency preparedness steps to take.
- Have Backup Supplies On Hand There are a number of ways to keep your various appliances and devices working even without access to electricity. If you have a generator, be sure you have it stored safely and know how to use it properly. Make sure you have plenty of spare batteries as well, in every size, to go into your flashlight, an emergency battery-powered radio, and whatever else you may need. There are also solar and battery-powered chargers for your phone, tablet, and laptop. You can even attach electronics to your car battery in a pinch.
- Conserve Power Even though you have ways of powering your devices, don’t overuse them. You never know when the electricity will come back, or how long you’ll need to use these alternative sources, so don’t use them up on frivolous things. Use them only as needed.
- Keep the Refrigerator and Freezer Closed Even during a blackout your fridge will keep the cold in, at least for a little while. Whenever you open the door, though, heat enters, and that time gets shorter. If the electricity is out for more than a day, you can use dry ice to keep things cold, if you can get some. It’s always a good idea to keep some foods on hand that don’t require electricity to prepare. When the power does come back, check everything carefully to make sure it’s still safe to eat.
- Keep Warm If the power goes out in winter, particularly if you live somewhere where the temperatures drop below freezing, you may need to find ways of keeping yourself warm without access to your furnace. Keeping emergency blankets on hand will prove invaluable, as these reflect heat to keep your body temperature from dropping. You should also bundle up and use layers to stay warm.
- Listen for Updates Keep your radio on and tuned to a local news station, to stay in the loop. Is the problem being fixed? How long until power is restored? Have other problems sprung up in the meantime that you need to be made aware of? How is the blackout affecting road conditions? Do local authorities have any recommendations for keeping yourself safe? It’s important to know what’s going on at all times.
A blackout is often caused by some larger disaster, such as a storm or an earthquake. If that’s the case, be sure to take proper precautions to keep yourself safe from whatever else may be threatening your area. On the other hand, if it’s just a citywide power outage, there’s little to worry about, as long as you’re prepared. Just know what to do and exercise caution. Once you’ve dealt with the essentials, it can even be fun. Take the time to read by candlelight, play board games, and indulge in other activities that you otherwise neglect in favor of your electronic devices. It may be a disaster, but if you’re stocked up with emergency supplies you can turn it into an adventure.