5 Tips for Staying Safe When the Lights Go Out

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Imagine: One minute you’re enjoying some TV from the comfort of your couch. The next, you’re unexpectedly sitting in the dark and wondering what just happened.

If you’re under the age of eight, this might seem like a great chance to talk mom and dad into a “campout adventure” in the living room. Those of you with a more seasoned perspective might see things a little differently. The two questions on your minds will probably be “How long will this last?” and “How can I keep my family safe?”
There’s no easy answer to your first question. We can provide five great tips to help you with the second.

Be Prepared

Sooner or later, a power outage is going to happen. Take the time to prepare now and you can ride out the situation with confidence. While most outages are brief, some may span several days, so make sure you have at least three days’ worth of canned or dried food and safe water set aside. Have flashlights or an LED Camp lantern available. Make sure you have an emergency radio that operates even when the AC outlets won’t. The Eton SP100 Scorpion Solar / Hand Crank radio is a great way to monitor official communications, but many other models exist at a variety of price points.

Maintain an Alternative Source of Power

You can’t always depend on the grid, so you need to be able to depend on yourself. Having a generator on hand can keep your essential appliances and electronics humming while the power company works things out. Many consumers think first of a gasoline powered generator, but keep in mind that these beasts require expensive fuel, cause a lot of noise, and emit fumes that can be harmful or deadly. A solar generator and storage battery unit is an economical, noiseless, and safe alternative. Available units range from smaller, highly portable models like the Humless Roadrunner to an insanely powerful, trailer-mounted 3000-watt Coyle generator.

Avoid Temperature Extremes

For some of us, a power outage translates into a loss of climate control. Usually this results in nothing more than discomfort, but keep in mind that extreme heat or cold can be serious. To fight heat, keep hydrated, limit mid-day activity, and consider frequent cool baths. To keep warm, make sure you have plenty of blankets and dress in layers.

Think Food Safety

If you do not have a generator to keep your refrigerator running during a power outage, keep an eye on the clock. Any food that reaches a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher quickly becomes unsafe after about two hours.

Plan for a Safe Return to Normal
Eventually, the power will come back on. Make sure you turn off anything that might cause a hazard if the power were to start working again on while that it is unattended. Think especially about things like heaters or electric stovetops.

Take these tips to heart. Adequate planning and a little common sense can make even an extended power outage an inconvenience instead of a disaster. Once you have your home secured and functioning, take a trip outside and check on your neighbors, offering help when you can. After all, not everyone is as prepared as you.

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