Being Prepared If the Power Goes Out

There are basic things any house needs to be prepared if the power goes out - both winter and summer.

  • First, know where your circuit breakers are located and how to check to see if a breaker switch is tripped.

  • Have a number of flash lights with fresh batteries in your home, and know where they are located. Also consider having a plug-in flashlight that remains charged until you need it - use, for example, in a dark hallway socket. Consider flashlights or lanterns with LED bulbs that feature long battery life.

  • Have spare batteries to replace ones that run out. (Make sure you recycle the old batteries properly - don't just toss them in the trash.)

  • Have a battery-powered (or one with a built-in, hand-crank generator) radio or television set to listen to news and weather announcements. If you don't have those, a quick trip to your car will give you a radio to listen to. Don't start up your car with garage door closed, and don't run your car for long periods of time inside your garage.

  • Post the emergency number for your electric utility so it's handy in case you need to call. Stay well away from any downed electric lines!

  • Have an ice chest available to store needed medications or special foods that must remain cold. Have "blue Ice" freezer packs ready for the ice chest to keep your medication cold.

  • Have a regular, hard-wired telephone, not just a cordless model, and a charged cell phone. Unless the telephone lines and cell towers are down, you should have telephone service.

  • If you use electricity for your water, such as a well with an electric pump, have enough water available to last a couple of days. You should have at least a gallon of drinking water a day for each person in your house for drinking and cooking.

  • If you want to have a backup generator, make sure it is installed by a licensed electrician and approved by your electric utility. Check with your local building department to see if a permit is needed. Make sure the system has an automatic breaker that disconnects the house from the power company's regular electricity lines when it is running. This prevents electricity from leaking back into the grid and making it dangerous for utility workers.

  • Have a household first aid kit and a disaster preparedness backpack kit (the American Red Cross offers this kit for sale) in case something happens.

  • Have a household disaster plan that you and your family can follow if something occurs. Include a meeting place for your family.