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5 Safety Tips During a Power Outage

Posted: March 31, 2014

Sudden power outages can pose a variety of challenges, and can be a source for major anxiety and frustration for homeowners. During a power outage, the personal safety methods that people may otherwise embrace could be challenged. The following five safety tips can help people overcome problems that arise during power outages.

1. Access emergency kits

If you're looking for ways to prepare for a power outage or similar emergency before it occurs, one of the best ways to do so is to prepare an emergency response kit. Each kit can vary depending on your family's unique needs, but most should include a three-day supply of water and food for each member of your household, as well as flashlights, battery-powered radios, first aid kits and medications. The Redcross sells an a basic emergency preparedness kit with includes a radio, batteries, emergency blankets, pen lights, food packs, along with many personal hygiene and first aid items for only $50.

2. Beware of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk and has been referred to as a silent killer for its pernicious effects. When you're trying to find an alternate power source or using a generator, this can be an especially major issue, but if you position your generator outside and away from windows, vents or doors you may be able to prevent carbon monoxide exposure during an emergency or natural disaster. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors can detect when levels get dangerous in your harm and can alert you and your family to the risk.

3. Unplug electrical equipment

If your power outage is connected to a water-related incident, you could be at risk for being electrocuted if these devices are still plugged into outlets when your power comes back on. To reduce this risk, you should unplug electrical equipment while the power is out and ensure that everything is cleaned off and dry before you try to plug them in again.

4. Protect against temperature changes

Depending on the time of year when the power outage occurs, there are certain things you'll need to be mindful of, like staying warm or staying cool. Setting a few sweaters aside in the same place as your emergency kit can be a good way to prevent hypothermia in the colder months of the year. In the summer, positioning yourself in the lowest levels of your home may allow you to enjoy cooler temperatures - wearing light-colored clothing can also be a good decision.

5. Be mindful of food

During a power outage, perishable foods may spoil, but unless you're vigilant about the quality of these items, you could expose yourself and loved ones to risks. As a good rule of thumb, you should toss out food that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees for more than two hours. In addition, if food has a strange color, odor or texture, you may want to avoid consuming it.