How to Handle an Unexpected Power Outage

It's hard to prepare for the unexpected. But when it comes to power outages at home, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're always ready for a black out. Consider the following precautions from Erie Insurance.

Prep for a possible emergency. While most power outages last no more than a few hours, those caused by natural disasters and storms can last for days. For that reason, first make sure your family is prepared to handle a worst-case scenario by compiling an emergency kit and creating an emergency action plan.

Consider investing in a back-up method of heating food. It's helpful to have a means of heating food that doesn't depend on electricity. Some options include a camping stove or barbecue grill. You can also manually ignite a gas stove — just make sure you have matches and know the proper technique. Of course, only use grills, generators and other carbon producing items outside. These items can produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if used indoors.

Know how to stay cool (or warm). Stay out of the sun, seek shade and wear light colors to remain cool in hot weather. Bundle up in layers and stay indoors to keep warm when you're dealing with cooler weather. If you heat or cool your home with a method that doesn't depend on electricity, make sure you have plenty of wood, newspapers and/or fuel stocked away.

Don't drink the tap water. When the power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning. So fill up your tub with water — just don't use it for cooking or cleaning without first purifying it. If you've run out of bottled or distilled water, boil or disinfect tap water first. Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. If you don't have a heating source, bring out the bleach. Add eight drops of bleach to a gallon of clear water (or 16 drops if your water is cloudy). Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

Know what food is safe to eat. In an emergency, you should have nonperishable food items stocked and stored. But what about the food in your refrigerator—will it still be any good during or after the power outage? Avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors if you can. This will keep the cool air in for as long as possible. A full freezer will safely hold food for 48 hours while a half-full freezer will safely hold food for up to 24 hours.

Source: Erie Insurance. Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2019. All rights reserved.

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