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Power Outage
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 Red Cross Resources

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Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. If a power outage lasts for 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned about losing your perishable foods. For prolonged power outages, though, there are steps you can take to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.

The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter offers the following information to help you cope with power outages:
 
Make a Plan
Include the following in your power outage safety plan.
  • Supplies that Preserve Food: 
    • One or more cooler - Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work well.
    • Ice - Surrounding your food with ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator will keep food colder for a longer period of time during a prolonged power outage. 
    • A digital quick-response thermometer - With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food to ensure they are cold enough to use safely. Perishable food should not be above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours at a time.
  • Alternate Sources of Power: If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, remember to include backup power in your evacuation plan. If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms: The primary hazards to avoid when using alternative sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire. Install the alarms in central locations of every level of your home.
Get a Kit
  • Non-perishable Food: Pack items such as energy bars, canned soup or peanut butter.
  • One Gallon of Water Per Person Per Day
  • First Aid Kit and Medications
  • Flashlight, Battery-operated or Crank Radio, Essential Tools and Maps (Note: Do not use candles during a power outage due to the extreme risk of fire)
  • Clothing and Sturdy Shoes
  • Personal Items and Sanitary Supplies: Pack important documents, hygiene supplies and comfort items such as books and toys.
  • Cash in Small Denominations
  • Emergency Contact Information
Be Informed
Learn how to protect yourself and others before, during and after a power outage.

What To Do in Case of Power Outage

  • Keep Food Safe: Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Then consume your food in the following order: first use perishable food from the refrigerator; then food from the freezer; then your non-perishable foods and staples.
  • Turn Off and Unplug all Unnecessary Electrical Equipment: Disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • If the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds: Move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from this location.
  • Use Generators Safely: When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly on the generator. Note: Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
What To Do When the Power Comes Back On
  • Do Not Touch Any Electrical Power Lines: Keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.
  • Throw Out Unsafe Food: Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety.  If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. Use a thermometer to check the food’s temperature.

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