In a real power outage (not just a breaker flip), it's important to protect your home and belongings as quickly as possible. So, if the lights switch off, take a breath, get out the flashlights and consider these tips:
- Unplug major appliances: When your power comes back on, being it hours or days away, it usually comes back with a surge that can damage your appliances. As a safety precaution, unplug any major devices that don't have a surge protector. If anything was turned on before the outage (light switches, etc.) it might be a good idea to turn them off.
- Protect your refrigerator and freezer: It's important to know that refrigerators are great at keeping heat out and preserving food even without power...as long as the chilled air stays inside. Protect your fridge and freezer by opening them as little as possible and as quickly as you can, to prevent spoiling food. If the power outage drags on for four hours or more (when food in the fridge starts to spoil), consider placing food that will spoil into a cooler on ice.
- Break out your emergency supplies: You can read more about emergency kits for power outages here, but if you have one then you should get it out in case supplies are needed. These kits typically can include medical supplies, lots of potable water, a battery powered radio, long-lasting food, extra batteries, and so on.
- Conserve heat/cool air: Shut the doors in any rooms you don't need and make sure your windows are closed to keep the air inside your home clean and at the right temperature. If it gets cold, bundle up. If it gets too hot, drink lots of water and open windows at night. If you are using a spot heater, follow directions carefully and give it proper ventilation!
- Conserve water: Your hot water tank will keep water hot for a while, but not forever. Use that remaining hot water conservatively.
- Make sure your mobile devices work: You'll want a phone to stay in communication with others, and preferably a way to charge it, like a spare battery pack.
- Recover slowly: When the power comes back on, slowly turn on your devices and check for signs of damage. You should consider getting surge protectors for your HVAC system and other large appliances.
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