Power Outages & Extreme Cold

Power Outages & Extreme Cold

Power Outages

 

Extended power outages may impact the whole community and the economy. A power outage is when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. A power outage may:

  • Disrupt communications, water, and transportation.

  • Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.

  • Cause food spoilage and water contamination.

  • Prevent use of medical devices.

PROTECT YOURSELF DURING A POWER OUTAGE:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.

  • Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.

  • Do not use a gas stove to heat your home.

  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.

  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.

  • If safe, go to an alternate location for heat or cooling.

  • Check on neighbors.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A POWER OUTAGE THREATENS: 

Prepare NOW

  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems. Monitor weather reports.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
  • Review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member. Have enough nonperishable food and water.
  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.

Survive DURING

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer.
  • Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
  • Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.

Be Safe AFTER

  • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

 


 

Snowstorms & Extreme Cold

 

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms and blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. A winter storm can:

  • Last a few hours or several days;
  • Knock out heat, power, and communication services; and
  • Place older adults, young children, and sick individuals at greater risk.

IF YOU ARE UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING, FIND SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Prepare for power outages.
  • Use generators outside only and away from windows.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Check on neighbors.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A WINTER STORM THREATENS:

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.
  • Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.
  • Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.

Survive DURING

  • Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away.
  • Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.

RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND

  • Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.
    • Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
    • Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
  • Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
    • Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness
    • Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.

Information taken from www.ready.gov 

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