Short-term power outages and blackouts are inconvenient. In certain circumstances, such as summertime in Arizona, power outages can be life threatening. Extended power outages may impact the whole community and the economy. By preparing for outages in advance, you'll have a plan to use when the power goes out.
Sign up for local alerts and warning systems. Monitor weather reports.
Take an inventory of the items you need—both inside and outside your home and in your community--that rely on electricity. Consider ATMs, gas stations, and certain medical devices all need electricity to operate.
Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there's room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full. Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
Consider the needs specific to your family
Call your power company before an outage occurs if you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system or other power-dependent equipment. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Ask them what alternatives are available in your area.
Have an extra battery if you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, have a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.
Have a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries if you are blind or have a visual disability.
Consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set if you are Deaf or have a hearing loss. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics in use when the power went out. Power may return with momentary "surges” or “spikes” that can damage computers as well as motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to run directly to the outlets on the generator.
Listen to local radio and to a battery- or generator-powered television for updated information
Leave on one light so that you'll know when your power returns.
Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Remember that equipment such as ATMs and elevators may not work during a power outage.
Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with the food thermometer. Throw out any foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to touch.
If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.