No one enjoys brownouts or blackouts, but it’s something you can expect from time to time. Whether the grid gets overloaded during a hot summer or a powerline goes down outside your home, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll always have power. However, knowing what to do during a power outage can help you and your family prepare to deal with it.
While it may be an inconvenience, it’s something most people have to deal with in their lives. Your main priority during a blackout should be your family’s safety, including pets, to ensure no one gets hurt trying to find their way in the dark. Here are steps you should take when your power goes out.
Confirm The Power Outage
Many things could cause brownouts, including a short circuit in your electrical panel, a storm, or even an issue at the power company. Therefore, when you lose power, the first thing you should do is confirm that your power is out.
Locate your electric panel to confirm your power is out and see if a break has tripped to keep circuits from overheating. If a breaker hasn’t been tripped, it’s likely your power is out, and it has nothing to do with your house’s wiring.
After inspecting your electric panel, you can venture outside to see if any neighbors have their outdoor lights on. Of course, if it’s daytime, you might not know unless you’re able to ask a neighbor outside whether or not they have power. Luckily, if your cell phone is charged, you can call neighbors to see if their power is working.
Call Your Electric Company
Once you’ve noticed that your power is out, call your electric company to notify them immediately. The sooner they know about a problem, the faster they can fix it. If you rent from a landlord, inform them of the power outage as well so they can send the appropriate team in case the building requires maintenance.
Unplugging your appliances will prevent them from damage when the power comes back on. Since power surges can damage televisions, computers, and even cell phones, you’ll want to unplug those first. Of course, you should also unplug anything that was on at the time of the outage, including your television or lamps. Anything that was turned off due to the outage could be dangerous once the power returns.
Don’t Open the Fridge
If you’re hungry during a power outage, try to avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer as much as possible to keep your food from spoiling. Instead, you can eat snacks or go to a restaurant that still has power. Unfortunately, if the power is still out after four hours, you’ll need to put refrigerated items in a cooler to keep them cold. Items in the freezer can last for up to 2 days if your freezer is packed, but you might not want to risk it if you see any signs of thaw once the power comes back on.
Many people grab candles when the power is out, but candles are much more dangerous than using flashlights because they have an open flame. You should never sleep with candles lit because you could wake up to a house fire if you’re not careful. Therefore, flashlights are always the better choice during power outages. Instead of relying on a flame, you can wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and quickly click your flashlight on for light.
To be prepared for power outages, keep at least a few flashlights with batteries somewhere everyone in your family can easily reach without having to dodge too much furniture. For example, you can keep them in a linen closet or kitchen drawer as long as everyone knows where they are.
Care For Pets And Children
Young ones and pets may get scared in a power outage, especially if they’ve never experienced it before. As soon as your power goes out, locate anyone or any pet in the home that can’t take care of themselves. Additionally, since the weather is a common cause of power outages, you may have to find ways to keep your family warm or cool, depending on the season. You can gather everyone in your family and keep them in one room during the power outage to ensure they’re safe no matter the weather outside. You should also dress appropriately and give dogs, cats, and children plenty of blankets during power outages in the cold seasons.
Prepare For Next Time
If a power outage has caught your family by surprise, you can kill time and prevent boredom by preparing for the next power outage by taking what you’ve learned from the first experience. For example, if you didn’t have flashlights on hand, now you know that you need everyone to have access to a flashlight and backup batteries.
Additionally, you may choose to put together an emergency power outage supply kit and store it in a linen closet. The kit should include basic supplies like flashlights, candles, lighters, snacks, and a first aid kit to properly care for someone who may get injured during the blackout.
Power outages can be boring, especially if the power is out for a few days. Unless your family has something to do during that time, there’s going to be a lot of complaining. In addition, your children are going to miss their video games and television shows, so you must be prepared with activities they can do to prevent boredom. Keep board games and puzzles on hand for when your family gets bored, and try to make the power outage as fun as possible.
If the power is out during the warmer months, you can spend more time outside with the family to distract young children and pets from the problems occurring inside the home. You can also let children continue to regular schedules like going to school or sports if those activities haven’t been canceled due to a city-wide outage.
The best thing you can do for your family during a power outage is to be prepared. These situations can happen anywhere at any time, so you should be prepared for a power outage in any season, especially in the winter when your house can get too cold for comfort. Ensuring your family is safe is the first step when you lose power, but you’ll also need to come up with activities to prevent everyone from getting bored while they wait for the power to come back on.