Did you know that 400 Americans die each year from summer heat? That is a true fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, The National Weather Service states, “Excessive heat is the number one weather related killer, causing more fatalities per year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and extreme winter cold.”
Well now, that makes you think of this heat advisory we are under a little bit differently, doesn’t it? One thing we need to consider is that if there is a heat wave going on, then there is a good chance of a power outage. There are a couple of reasons that this could happen.
· Severe storms may knock out power lines.
· There will be an increased use of air conditioners that may over load the power grid, resulting in a power outage.
In this post we want to share some general safety tips as well as some fire safety tips to keep you, your family and your home safe in the event of a summer power outage.
General Safety Tips during a Power Outage
- Only use flashlights for emergency lighting.
- 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 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours
- Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices.
- 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.
Food Storage During and After a Power Outage
Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The tips below are from USDA. You can visit their site by clicking here: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/
· A full fridge or freezer will keep food longer than a half full or empty one. In general, if it isn’t opened, a full freezer will keep food frozen for about two days. If it is half full, the food will only last about one day. A fridge that is not opened will keep food for about 4 hours.
· Keep the fridge closed! The less the door to the fridge or freezer is open, the colder the inside will stay. If possible eat foods that do not need to be refrigerated (snacks, pasta, rice etc.…) or have in mind exactly what you want before you open the door. This is no time for a lengthy deliberation between carrots or celery!
· For safety purposes, the fridge should not go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. You can use an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer to make sure that these temperatures are being maintained. Also, ice bags and dry ice can be used to cool down the inside.
Food Preparation Tips before a Power Outage Occurs
· Have items on hand that don't require refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on the outdoor grill. Shelf-stable food, boxed or canned milk, water, and canned goods should be part of a planned emergency food supply.
· Make sure you have ready-to-use baby formula for infants and pet food. Remember to use these items and replace them from time to time. Be sure to keep a hand-held can opener for an emergency.
· Coolers are a great help for keeping food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours—have a couple on hand along with frozen gel packs. When your freezer is not full, keep items close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.
· Consider what you can do ahead of time to store your food safely in an emergency. If you live in a location that could be affected by a flood, plan your food storage on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water.
Fire Safety Tips during a Power Outage
- Remember that electrically-connected smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms will not work when the power is out unless they have battery back-ups. Make sure your home has battery-operated smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Everyone should know how to get out immediately if there is a fire. Plan and practice your escape plan before emergencies happen. For more information on creating a fire escape plan, click here.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles or hurricane lamps. If using candles, place them in a secure holder and cover them with a glass chimney, away from children and pets. (See section on candle safety below.)
- Propane and charcoal barbecues are for outdoor use only. Do not bring them inside. EVER….even if it’s raining outside!!!!!
- Purchase generators with recognized approval labels. Make sure the unit has proper connection receptacles and circuit breakers. (For more information see the generator section below)
- Portable generators should only be used outdoors and carefully located to ensure that exhaust fumes do not enter the home. Allow the generator to cool before refueling. Refuel the generator outside, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Store fuel for the generator in approved containers, outside the home.
- Make sure electric stove elements and small appliances are OFF or unplugged to prevent fires from occurring when the electricity is restored.
- Cordless phones will not work when the power is out, so it is recommended to have at least one phone that does not require electricity to operate. (Most of us don’t have landlines, but perhaps an elderly neighbor is still using one of these phones…please check on them during a power outage.)
- Use extreme caution during flood emergencies and power outages. Electrical equipment impacted by flood water can be extremely dangerous.
· Determine the amount of power you will need—how much power do you need to operate equipment and appliances connected to the generator?
· Portable generators made for household use can provide temporary power to a small number of selected appliances or lights. For example, light bulb wattage indicates the power needed for lighting. Appliance and equipment labels indicate their power requirements. If you can’t determine the amount of power you will need, ask an electrician.
· Choose the generator’s fuel source—Backup generators are typically powered by either diesel fuel or natural gas, and both have associated advantages and disadvantages. Speak with your utility company or an experienced electrician, engineer, and/or sales consultant who knows exactly what kind of generator may be needed based on your needs.
· Permanently installed, stationary generators are better suited for providing backup power to the home. Portable generators present a greater risk of becoming overloaded or overheated, which may cause the generator to fail.
· Make sure your generator produces more power than will be drawn by the electrical devices you connect to the generator, including the initial surge when it is turned on. Ensure all electrical devices are turned off before you connect them to a generator. Once the generator is running, switch devices on one by one. Shut them down again before switching back to your utility service.
The above information is courtesy of www.ready.gov
Candle Fire Safety
One of the things that most of us do when there is a power outage is immediately head for the stash of candles we put away for just such an occasion. Did you know that an estimated 20 percent of candle fires that involve a fatality occur during a power outage?
To protect your family and home, the National Candle Association along with the National Association of State Fire Marshals recommend the following precautions, should you decide to use candles during a power outage.
• Pillar candles and container candles are a better choice during a power outage
than taper candles. Broader based candles are less likely to be accidentally
knocked over. When possible, candles should be enclosed within glass globes for
added protection from burns or fire.
• Place candles on a stable surface in a fire resistant holder that is at least 12
inches away from anything flammable, including upholstered furniture and
window drapes. For added safety when the lights go out, a candle in its holder may
be placed on a stable, nonflammable surface, such as a metal cookie sheet, frying pan
or ceramic dinner plate.
• Avoid moving a burning candle during a power outage if possible. It is easy to
trip in the dark or brush against something flammable. Container candles may be
too hot to handle, causing you to drop the container, which could start a fire.
• Never leave a burning candle unattended. Try to restrict people and candles to
one room in the house so the location of family members and candle flames always
can be accounted for. Extinguish candles upon leaving a room.
• Make sure the candles are well out of the reach of children and pets. Young
children are especially apt to bump into things when a room is unfamiliarly dark.
• Don’t use candles to search for something in a closet or small confined space
where clothes, papers or other combustibles could accidentally ignite.
• Extinguish all candles before going to bed. Never use a candle as a nightlight.
• Extinguish candles safely. Extinguish the candle by cupping your hand behind the
candle flame before blowing it out – or, better yet, snuff out the flame with a metal
candle snuffer. A spark or ember, if blown from the candle, could ignite a fire.
(For more information on candle safety, check out our blog post "The Ultimate Guide to Candle Safety" by clicking here.)
We hope that we have given you some great ideas on staying safe and surviving a power outage, whether it is due to the summer heat or the winter cold. In many cases, it is simply a matter of thinking ahead and being prepared!
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