Springtime brings beautiful wildflowers all across the state of Texas, but spring also brings strong storms and the threat of power outages. Blackouts can happen at any time throughout the year, so it’s good to be prepared for the possibility of losing power.
Prepare for an outage
Anticipating losing power in the future and gathering supplies early will help you be prepared when the electricity goes out. Taking steps beforehand will make it much easier for you and your family to get around easily, have necessary tools on hand, and keep your food from spoiling fast.
- Keep your car’s gas tank as full as possible. There’s no guarantee that gas pumps will function during a power outage, so it’s best to have some fuel in your gas tank.
- Have an emergency kit ready in an easy to reach location. The kit should include a flashlight, first aid kit, cash, and other supplies.
- Keep containers of water in your refrigerator and freezer. During a power outage, food often spoils quickly in a warm refrigerator. To keep your food cold and safe, containers of water in the fridge and containers of ice in the freezer will help them stay colder, longer. Remember: A freezer that is full will keep your food colder for a longer amount of time.
- Make sure you have a manual key to your home. If you typically use the garage door opener to enter and leave your home, make sure you have an actual key that you can use to lock and unlock your doors. Garage door openers may not work during a power outage.
- Invest in a battery-powered radio, television or other device and make sure to have extra batteries.
- Charge your cell phone and have a way to charge your phone without using electricity.
- Know where your community’s emergency shelters are. In the middle of a heat wave, a power outage could mean heat stroke and even death for individuals sensitive to heat. Know where the area’s cooling and warming shelters are located.
- During peak hours of the day, try to conserve energy. Using less energy during the times of the day when people use it most will put less strain on the power grids.
During the power outage
- Try to avoid using candles. Candles are a source of light that use no energy, however, the risk for fire far outweighs the benefits of using it as a light source. According to the People’s Burn Foundation, 15,600 house fires are caused every year by candles and they should not be used during a blackout. The best options for light during a power outage are battery powered lights and flashlights.
- So that you know when the power is restored, leave on one light.
- Do not open your fridge or freezer. Anytime you open your refrigerator, cool air will escape and warm up your food and medication supply.
- Check for updates on your battery-powered radio, television or device.
- Make sure to wear loose fitted clothing in order to stay cool and comfortable during the outage.
- Unplug any electronics and appliances in case of an electricity surge, which could damage them.
After the power outage
Once the power outage is over, you must take an inventory of the food that was exposed to warm temperatures. If the doors to your refrigerator remained closed during the power outage, it would be able to keep your food cold for 4 hours. If your freezer door was kept shut, it would be able to keep your food cold for 48 hours if the fridge was full and 24 hours if it was half full. Most refrigerated food must be discarded when it reaches 40 °F and is held at that temperature for 2 or more hours. To see what foods should be kept and discarded, see Food Safety.gov’s website which lists all the food. Never check the freshness of food by tasting it. When in doubt, throw it out!
Check with your pharmacist about refrigerated medications and when they need to be thrown away.