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Taking action during a power outage begins long before you lose power. It means having adequate battery-operated lighting, a stock of food, an alternative method of charging batteries or other battery powered device. Simple things, such as knowing how to open an electric garage door, should be part of your knowledge before the power outage.
You can also help keep freezers cool and protect food for an additional day or two by keeping water filled plastic bottles in the freezer. Always keep a full tank of gas if leaving the area is an option. Gas stations need power, so fuel locally might not be available. Any family that has a member that requires medical equipment that uses power needs to investigate both long term and short term power sources.
When the power does go out, keep refrigerator doors closed. Food in the refrigerator stays good for about four hours with freezer food lasting two days. Bottles of ice water extend that time. If it looks like the power will be out for a long time, use refrigerator, then freezer food first. Don’t forget to have temporary cooking facilities, even if it’s a small cotton ball stove made from a can.
Have power flashlights and lanterns available, since candles can cause fires. Dress appropriately for the temperature outside. If you have a basement, it normally remains a more constant temperature and far cooler in the summer heat. Make sure you block the air from under the door and through windows in the winter months and keep shades closed on hot sunny days in the summer. Have an alternative method of keeping warm, such as gas catalytic heaters, wood burning stoves and kerosene heaters. Never use a generator inside your home.
Don’t forget to turn off or unplug all electrical appliances. Having a plug-in nightlight that’s easy to see from the location where your family hunkers down can be a good way to tell when the power is back on without worrying about a surge that wipes out computers and other equipment.