Be Prepared for Power Outages This Winter
With the cold of winter time comes the possibility of power outages that can present real safety threats to the normal operation of medical devices or heating systems. We recommend preparing before an outage occurs. And, if one does happen, here are some keys to remaining safe:
Before an Outage
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. For more information visit: Get Tech Ready.
- Charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full. Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home. This can lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning.
- Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website, so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
- If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent, like a medical device, determine a back-up plan. For more planning information tips, visit: Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs.
- If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
During an Outage
- Only use flashlights for emergency lighting; candles can cause fires.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four (4) hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. For more information about food safety, visit this food page.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
- Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.
After an Outage
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for two (2) hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
- Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods, and other supplies.
Helpful Holiday Preparedness Hints
This holiday season, take a few simple precautions to ensure that you prevent accidents or dangers that could place you, your family, or your pet in harm’s way. Here are a few helpful hints to keep in mind:
- Stay off the road during and after a winter storm
- Use extra caution with lit candles
- Keep candles away from flammable materials
- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles
- Put candles in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders
- Place candles where they cannot tip over
- Never leave a lit candle unattended
- Blow out candles after use and before going to bed
- Keep an eye on food when cooking
- Turn off holiday lights at night
- Keep your tree watered, don’t let your holiday tree dry out
- Dried-out holiday trees are a fire hazard. Don’t leave them in the garage or lean them against the house. Check with a local recycling program for safe, green options for disposal.
- Shop securely online over the holidays
- Make sure pets have a warm and safe place to wait out holiday excitement
- Refrigerate holiday leftovers in shallow containers (less than two inches deep) within two hours of cooking, particularly meats and foods that contain dairy products. Bacteria can form quickly as food items reach room temperature.
- Not all homes are childproofed. If traveling or hosting small children, be aware of loose cords and wires, easily accessible household chemicals and cleaning supplies, unlocked liquor and medicine cabinets, and electrical outlets.
- Keep a flashlight with you or place one in each sleeping room so guests can find their way through the house at night or in the event of a power outage.
- It’s nice to enjoy a roaring fire in the fireplace, but never dump ashes directly into a trash can. Allow ashes to cool, then place them in a tightly covered metal container. Douse and saturate with water. Store well away from the house or other buildings.
Prevent Home-Cooking Fires This Thanksgiving
Did you know that Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for home-cooking fires? It’s true. The average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day is more than double (2.1 times more) the average number of fires on all other days of the year.
Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings occur most frequently from noon to 3:00p.m., when many people typically prepare Thanksgiving dinner.
Unattended cooking is by far the leading factor in home-cooking fires, with two-thirds of them started when food or other cooking materials catches fire.
Frying poses the greatest risk of fire. To help mitigate those risks, here are five dangers of deep frying a turkey.
- Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
- An overfilled cooking pot will cause cooking oil to spill when the turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when put in the pot.
- Even a small amount of cooking oil spilling on a hot burner can cause a large fire.
- Without thermostat controls, deep fryers can overheat oil to the point of starting a fire.
- The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles can get dangerously hot.
To further illustrate the possible dangers, here is a video on risks associated with turkey fryers:
To prevent home-cooking fires, remember to stand by the pan at all times and, if you are cooking at high temperatures, be certain to turn off the burner before leaving the kitchen.