What to Do If You Lose Electricity 

 February 29, 2016

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A power outage can occur at any time of the year because of weather, a system failure, too much demand, or an accident that damages equipment. If the power goes out in the winter, it can create especially dangerous conditions. Here are some things you should do if you lose power.

•    The first thing you should do is to check your home’s circuit breaker to see if you have blown a circuit. If the power is out in your whole neighborhood, contact your utility company to report the outage. If the power is out in a large area, it might take longer to restore it.

•    Do not call 911 unless there is an emergency. You should only call 911 if someone is injured or in danger or if you see a power line down. Never go near a downed power line.

•    Use a battery-powered radio or TV to monitor news reports and find out when utility workers expect to have the power restored.

•    Dress in layers to stay warm. Put on a sweater, sweatshirt, or jacket; gloves; and a knit hat.

•    If you are cold, you can increase your body temperature by taking a warm shower. Your hot water tank should stay warm for a few hours, even if it is electric.

•    Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer if you don’t have to so your food will stay cold. Food should stay cold for several hours if the door is shut.

•    Unplug major appliances to avoid creating a power surge or drain when the electricity is restored. Turn off computers, TVs, stereos, and other unnecessary electronics at the source to prevent damage when the power comes back on. Leave a light on so you will be able to tell when power has been restored.

•    If you have a generator, you should not connect it to your house’s power system unless it disconnects the house from the main power grid when it is being used. If you use a generator while still connected to the main power grid, it can send electricity back down the lines, which could be fatal for utility company workers.

•    You can use a wood stove or fireplace for heat if you have one. Do not use a kerosene heater, barbecue, or outdoor heater indoors because they can release carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

•    Check on elderly neighbors or people who have medical problems or who use medical devices that require electricity. Make sure they are dressed warmly. If a person uses a machine that requires electricity, move him or her to a place that has power.

•    If you need to go out, drive carefully because traffic lights might not be working. Treat each intersection like a four-way stop.

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