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How to Prepare for an Extended Power Outage

power outage caused by tree on power line

Even if a hurricane doesn’t make direct landfall in your area, the cone of the storm’s impact could mean hurricane-strength winds that can take out power lines for several days. It’s important to be prepared ahead of a storm for the possibility of being without power for up to a week.

Before an Outage

Stay informed by monitoring the storm via TV, radio, and internet. Make sure your account with your local electric company is updated with your current phone number and email address. Sign up for outage alerts so you can get information via text message and have your electric company’s phone number for reporting outages at the ready.

Ensure you or a family member know how to turn of the gas, electricity, and water so you can turn off utilities if instructed to do so by authorities.

Important: Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home. This is essential, as damage from a storm can create leaks and carbon monoxide is deadly and undetectable without these devices.

Prepare your phone and other electronic devices along with supplemental external battery chargers, including charging, updating, and backing up. Have spare wall and car chargers on hand.

Set refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings and only open when absolutely necessary.

• Pack bags of ice into open spaces in your freezer.

• Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer

• A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.

• For refrigerated items, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, etc. into a cooler surrounded by ice.

Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.

Prepare an emergency kit: See checklist here.

Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets by cleaning and filling the bathtub, washing machine, and other large containers with water.

If you have children, prepare toys, games, and other entertainment that doesn’t require power.

Have cash available. If power is lost, ATMs and credit card readers may not be working.

And finally, be prepared with a backup plan to stay in a shelter in case your home becomes uninhabitable due to damage from wind or fallen trees.

• In North Carolina, call 211, visit the NC Department of Public Safety website for a list of shelters or download the ReadyNC mobile app.

• In South Carolina, visit the SC Emergency Management Division website for a list of shelters or download the SC Emergency Manager app to find your zone based on GPS or by entering a physical address. Get the free app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

During an Outage

Report the outage to your electric company as soon as you lose power. Don’t assume your neighbors have already done so.

Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas, and debris. Treat fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized. Immediately report downed lines to your local electric company.

Only use generators outside. Keep them more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.

Turn off all appliances (with the exception of your refrigerator), including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and water pump. Leave one light on to know when power has been restored. By turning off appliances, you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that could result when power is restored to all appliances at once.

If your home uses gas power, turn off the gas at the source to avoid leaks from damaged gas lines.

Stay informed. Listen to the local radio station on your battery-operated radio for regular news and weather updates.

If your safety is at risk at any point:

Be prepared with a “go bag” for each family member should you need to be transported to a shelter.

Do not attempt to travel on your own.

Contact emergency responders immediately if your home becomes unsafe.