Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer storms can mean power outages

Rosanna Arias/FEMA
Summer storms can leave your home, your neighborhood and even your entire city or town without power. While power outages can occur any time of year, summer power outages come with special challenges, such as heat-related illness. To prepare for summer power outages, follow these tips:

•   Beware of heat stroke: Power outages mean loss of air conditioning or electric fans. If temperatures are high, don’t sweat it out. Go to a designated cooling center or friend’s house with functioning air conditioning. Heat can be especially dangerous for seniors. If you do stay at home, keep blinds and curtains closed to block out the sun. Consider buying a battery-operated fan for your emergency supply kit.

•   Store bottled water: In addition to knocking out power, summer storms can also lead to flooding and contaminated water. So it’s especially important to have water stored during the summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you drink a glass of fluid every 15-20 minutes in extreme heat. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine, as they will dehydrate you. If you use a water purification system, keep in mind it may not work during a power outage.

•   Make sure your food is safe: According to CDC, if the power is out for more than four hours, it’s best to move meats and dairy products into a cooler with ice. Move stuff to a cooler but don't open the freezer . Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food before you cook or eat it. Discard any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out.

•   Unplug: The American Red Cross suggests that during a power outage, it’s a good idea to unplug all electrical equipment. When the power comes back on, the spike in electricity can cause damage to equipment like computers and televisions. Leave one light on, however, so you can know when the electricity is back on.

•   Protect against carbon monoxide: While a home generator might make a power outage easier to cope with, never use one inside a home, garage, basement or any partially enclosed area. Generators, along with any other gasoline or propane burning device, can produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas and exposure can lead to death. It’s a good idea to have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector that works without electricity.

For more summer preparedness tips, visit Get Ready’s Summer Safe Web page

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