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Emergency Power Outage

Emergency Power Outage: How To Survive Crisis Off The Grid

Before An Emergency Power Outage

This post provides basic safety tips and what to do before, during and after an emergency power outage when you’re forced into an off the grid situation.

Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.

Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone, or any device that requires power.

Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices.

Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.

Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.

Keep your car’s gas tank full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

If you use your car to re-charge devices, then do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website.

This information will help you locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.

If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device, then determine a back-up plan.

Get Tech Ready For An Emergency Power Outage

Technology has made it easier than ever to prepare for emergencies.

However, it can be unreliable during emergency circumstances if you haven’t planned to keep your gadgets protected and powered up.

Here are some tips to make sure you are tech ready.

Be Informed

Download the FEMA app.

Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service (NWS) for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Sign up for FEMA text messages.

Use your cell phone’s text messaging capability to receive text message updates from FEMA .

Before an emergency power outage, follow local government on social media to stay up-to-date with official information before, during, and after an off the grid situation.

Sign up for Twitter Alerts from trusted government agencies to get notified when critical information goes out.

Visit the alerts setup page of the agency you want to receive notifications.

Make A Plan

Use text messages, social media and email to connect with friends and family during emergencies.

Mobile networks can become overwhelmed during emergencies, which makes it difficult to place and receive phone calls.

Text messages require less bandwidth, which means they can be transmitted more reliably during situations when many people are trying to use their mobile phones at the same time.

Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter can also be an effective way to update family and friends during emergencies.

Facebook Safety Check feature allows users to easily post a status update indicating that they are safe during an emergency power outage.

Register with American Red Cross’s Safe And Well site to let family and friends know you’re okay.

After registering, you can select a message to let family and friends know you’re OK.

Have an emergency charging option for your phone and other mobile devices.

Smartphones have become a vital tool to receive emergency alerts and warnings.

So, it’s important to make sure you can keep them powered up in an emergency.

At Home

Prior to severe weather, make sure that all of your electronic devices are fully charged.

If the power goes out, preserve battery power by minimizing device use.

Keep a back-up power source on hand to recharge your phone so that you can stay connected even during an extended power outage.

In Your Car

Keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle at all times.

And, consider purchasing a back-up power supply to keep in your vehicle as well.

Change the settings on your phone to low power mode or place it on airplane mode to conserve energy.

Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or in the cloud.

There are a number of productivity apps for mobile devices that make this easier than ever, using your phone’s camera as a scanning device.

Capture electronic versions of important documents such as insurance policies, identification documents, and medical records.

Don’t forget to include your pet’s information.

Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents.

Scan old photos to protect them from loss.

Keep your contacts updated and synced across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media.

This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates.

Consider creating a group listserv of your top contacts.

Create a group chat via a texting app or a thread for family, friends, and coworkers to communicate quickly during a disaster.

Gather identification documents, and medical records.

Don’t forget to include your pet’s information.

Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents.

Scan old photos to protect them from loss.

Keep your contacts updated and synced across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media.

This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates.

Consider creating a group listserv of your top contacts.

Create a group chat via a texting app or a thread for family/friends/coworkers to communicate quickly during a disaster.

Seniors and individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs should follow these links for more planning information tips.

Safety Tips During An Emergency Power Outage

Only use flashlights for emergency lighting because candles can cause fires.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours.

An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours.

A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.

For more information about food safety visit my post.

Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside.

In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community.

If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls.

Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.

Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside or indoors.

Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.

Never use your oven as a source of heat.

If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.

Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices.

Consider adding surge protectors.

If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.

Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

After An Emergency Power Outage

Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.

When in doubt, throw it out!

If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.

Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about spoiled medications.

Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies.

Snow Storms And Extreme Cold

Also, this post explains what actions to take when you receive a winter weather storm alert from the National Weather Service for your local area, and what to do before, during, and after a snowstorm or extreme cold.

Know Your Risk

A winter storm occurs when there is significant precipitation, and the temperature is low enough that precipitation forms as sleet or snow, or when rain turns to ice.

A winter storm can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours, to a blizzard that lasts for several days.

Dangerously low temperatures accompany many winter storms.

Winter storms can cause emergency power outages that last for days.

They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous or impassable, and close or limit critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs and schools.

Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, and carbon monoxide poisoning and other conditions.

Winter storms and colder than normal temperatures can happen in every region of the country.

Winter storms can occur from early autumn to late spring depending on the region.

What To Do Before Snowstorms And Extreme Cold

Make a Family Communications Plan.

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency.

Keep space heater safety in mind.

Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements.

Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.

Prepare Your Home

Make sure your home is well insulated, and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.

Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Keep fire extinguishers on hand; and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.

House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.

Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

Insulate your home by installing storm windows, or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.

Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat.

Also, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.

Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:

  • Extra blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Warm winter coats

Fireplace or wood-burning stove with plenty of dry firewood, or a gas log fireplace

Prepare Your Vehicle

Fully winterize your vehicle.

Have a mechanic check antifreeze, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good shape.

Keep your gas tank at least half full.

Keep an extra emergency kit specifically created for your car.

In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables, rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction.

Make sure you have a cell phone with an emergency charging option (car, solar, hand crank, etc.) in case of a power failure.

People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.

Plan to check on elderly and disabled relatives and neighbors.

Plan to bring pets inside.

Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located, and how to operate it in case you lose power.

Fill a gallon container with water and place them in the freezer to help keep food cold.

On a final note, a NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards.

Also, you may sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.

Curated from Ready.gov and edited by RuralMoney.com.

Tonza Borden Publisher Rural Money

Tonza Borden Publisher Rural Money

Tonza Borden

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