As California battles several raging wildfires, powerful winds are expected to continue and potentially worsen, prompting utilities to plan for extended power outages for even more customers. Power companies often do this to reduce the risk of transmission lines being blown into contact with trees that could easily catch fire. Although current planned power outages are predominately impacting California residents and businesses, this could potentially become a more widespread issue in the near future.
Facing prolonged power outages can be frustrating at best, and dangerous at worst. Similar to preparing for an extreme weather event, there are steps you can take to keep your family and home safe. Planned power outages provide residents time to prepare including charging phones, radios and even vehicles.
If you’re facing a planned power outage (or want to be prepared for unexpected outages) here are a few things to consider.
- Take inventory of electronics that you may need that rely on power.
- Have plenty of water on hand. Bottled water is probably the most convenient, but you can also fill water bottles you already own.
- Depending on the amount of notice given, you can plan a few meals to eat your perishables and try to keep your refrigerator and freezer cold for as possible by keeping the doors closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours and a full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Throw out food if the temperature reaches 40 degrees or higher. Use a cooler with ice if there are items you plan to consume during the outage.
- If using a generator, only use it outdoors and away from all windows, 20 feet is considered a safe distance.
- Confirm your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and ensure they offer battery backup and that the batteries have been replaced in the last six months. Carbon monoxide detectors should be located on each floor and in a central location.
- Keep additional batteries on hand with a variety of battery types.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas or your vehicle is charged to full capacity.
If you’re forced to evacuate, power could potentially be turned back on while you are away, making it hard to tell if the food in your fridge or freezer is still safe to eat. But, there is a simple little trick you can use to help. Try freezing a cup of water and placing a penny on top. Leave the frozen cup in your freezer while away. If the power is out long enough for foods (and the frozen water) to thaw, the penny will begin to sink. If everything stays frozen, you’ll come back to the penny still sitting on top of the frozen water.
For additional tips or suggestions, head to your local Lowe’s store and speak with an associate about the best way to prepare for a power outage.