Skip to content

Seven ways to survive a power outage

Whether your power is knocked out by a blizzard or a tropical storm, you must be prepared to survive in your home without electricity until power can be restored. Follow this guide to ensure that you are prepared to outlast an extended power outage.

1. Use gas to cook foods that would otherwise spoil.

Provided you have access to a gas stove or any other non-electric cooking appliance, you should quickly cook and eat any food that will spoil without electricity. This includes raw meat, eggs, and some dairy products. Know which foods will spoil immediately and which can be kept for a while longer. Keep your refrigerator door closed as much as possible to hold in the cold air and delay spoilage. Depending on your refrigerator, perishable food should stay within a safe temperature range (below 40 degrees) for about four hours without electricity. After that, food must either be cooked or tossed out. Cooked food must also be pitched after two hours.

2. Fill your pantry with nonperishable goods.

Always keep a supply of nonperishable food on hand for when the power goes out. Rather than wait until the day before a storm hits to head to the store, simply pick up an extra few packages of nonperishable kitchen staples during your regular grocery shopping trips to ensure you always have fresh supplies. Good options include canned fruit, cereal with shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, tuna fish, and whole-wheat crackers. Remember to choose cans with pull-tabs or pick up a manual can opener.

3. Use caution while operating a generator.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 60-70 people die every year from generator-related carbon monoxide poisoning. To prevent this from happening to you, never bring a portable generator indoors. Direct the exhaust away from doors or windows and keep a minimum of 20 feet between the generator and your home.

4. Unplug all electrical appliances.

Storm-damaged power lines can create spikes or surges in the line, which will then damage your appliances when the utility company attempts to restore power. To prevent this, make sure all your electrical appliances are safely unplugged (including your TV, fridge, and microwave). Not only will this save you from having to replace damaged appliances, it will also reduce your risk of electrical fire due to power surges.

5. Invest in an emergency radio.

Ideally, your cell phones will still be functional in the event of a power outage. However, if your phone were to die or become damaged, it is vital that you still have a method of receiving information should an evacuation order be issued. Include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio among your emergency supplies.

6. Have an evacuation plan.

When you receive an evacuation order, you must be prepared to leave immediately. To ensure a hasty exit, keep all important documents, such as birth certificates and passports, in one convenient location such as a portable lockbox. Keeping a “go-bag” with 2-3 days’ worth of necessities can also be helpful for getting you out the door as quickly as possible. If you have children, make sure to practice your evacuation plan once or twice a year to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

7. Avoid fallen powerlines.

If possible, stay at home during an outage until power is restored. If you do have to venture out onto the road in an emergency, stay at least 35 feet away from fallen powerlines and anything they might be touching. Immediately contact 911 and let them know where the lines are down. Touching a powerline can injure or even kill you if an electrical current is running through it. When in doubt, always assume the line is energized. During a power outage, it is imperative that you prioritize your health and safety. Shelter in place and be ready to evacuate, just in case. To ensure that your home is protected against storm-related damages during an outage, reach out to an independent insurance agent today.