How to Prepare for a Long-Term Power Outage

The recent natural disasters in the Gulf of Mexico (and beyond) have raised several concerns about how we, as people, prepare for these events and how we take care of people afterwards. There are certainly steps governments and NGOs can take to be better prepared. On a smaller scale, however, there are steps that we as individuals and families can take before disaster strikes so the effects of said disasters are minimized. Follow these tips so that your family is ready to take on power outages that can accompany these large events.

1) Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go

Before any type of outage or disaster strikes, it’s essential for households to have their own emergency preparedness kit and plan ready to grab at a moment’s notice. This kit should include the basics for getting through an outage: drinking water, non-perishable food, batteries, cash, a first aid kit, as well as other recommended supplies. has printable lists to help prepare for special members of your family, such as children, elderly family members and pets.

2) Unplug appliances and electronics

To avoid any damage caused by power surges, turn off and unplug sensitive electronics and larger appliances (like your fridge or stove) after you notice the power go out. Keep one light switched on so you know when the power returns.

3) Make sure your food is safely contained

Refrain from opening your fridge if you suspect a power outage is going to be short-lived. Once the hours roll by and it’s clear the outage will last much longer, then is the time to assess the safety of the food in the house.

If any food has been over 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for over two hours—especially meat, eggs, poultry, fish, etc—dispose of it. Don’t run the risk of getting sick! You can prepare a cooler by always keeping locking freezer bags filled with drinking water in the freezer. The ice will keep foods stored in a cooler chilled and you can drink the water after it thaws, as well.

4) Fill up your bathtub

In case your city’s water system goes to the wayside, use duct tape to create a tighter seal around your bathtub drain and fill the tub up with water. This can be used for everyday use, including flushing the toilet. It’s essential to also fill up bottles and jugs with water for drinking.

5) Charge your essential electronics

It’s a good idea to have external batteries around for cell phones, and to keep them fully charged in the case of a power outage. Keep your phone powered off or in airplane mode as much as you can stand it to conserve power.

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