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19 Tips to Prepare for a Power Outage, Part 2: Individuals and Families

By Matt Donahue, Business Continuity Analyst,
Thursday, August 28th, 2014

In Part One of Tips to Prepare Your Investment Firm for a Power Outage, we shared 21 key steps from one of Eze Castle Integration's Business Continuity Experts, Matt Donahue, which can help firms to develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). In Part Two, we discuss measures that individuals and families should take to prepare for a power outage or blackout.

19 Tips to Prepare You and Your Family

During an outage, it pays to have yourself and your family prepared.  Take time and talk to your family about outages and what to do when they happen.  Consider impaired or elderly family members and neighbors that may need assistance during an outage.  Do research on your town's or city's emergency preparedness plans. Learn how they will identify shelters, warming/cooling stations, and announce their opening.

Before an Outage or Storm

  • Check flashlights and portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries as part of your Emergency Kit.  A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm.Power Outage Emergency Kit

  • If a storm is coming that may result in power outages, fully charge your cell phone, laptop, and any other devices in advance of a power outage.

  • Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.

  • If a storm is coming that may bring power outages and you have a water supply (such as a well-water pump system) that could be affected by a power outage, fill your bathtub and spare containers with water.  Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet.

  • Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door.  Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed). 

  • If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.

  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage. Ensure you have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices.

  • If you have life-support devices that depend on electricity, contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of an emergency. Some utility companies will put you on a "priority reconnection service" list. Talk to your equipment suppliers about your power options and also let the fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.

  • Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

  • Consider purchasing a generator to provide power during an outage. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and know how to use it safely before an outage.

  • Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community if you need it. Register in advance with the local emergency management agency, the local fire department, other government agencies or non-profit groups. Tell them of your individual needs or those of a family member and find out what assistance, help or services can be provided.

During an Outage

  • Do not call 9-1-1 to report your power outage or to ask for information, use 9-1-1 only for emergencies. Call your utility company to report the outage and get restoration information.

  • Check in on friends, family, and neighbors, particularly those most susceptible to extreme temperatures and power outages such as seniors and those with access and functional needs.

  • If the power is out, use flashlights or other battery-powered lights if possible, instead of candles. If you must use them, place candles in safe holders away from anything that could catch fire. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

  • Don’t get overheated. If the power goes out when it’s hot outside, take these steps to stay cool:

    • ​Stay in the lowest level of your home where it will be coolest.

    • Put on light-weight, light-colored clothing.

    • Drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

    • Remember to give your pets and service animal fresh, cool water.

    • If you need it, see if your community has “cooling centers” or shelters open.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using a generator.  Always use outdoors, away from windows and doors. Carbon Monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly accumulate indoors. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator directly into household wiring, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.

After an Outage

  • Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm.  Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by trees or debris, and could be live.  Never attempt to touch or moved downed lines.  Keep children and pets away from them. 

  • Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences.  Always assume a downed line is a live line.  Call your utility company to report any outage-related problem such as downed wires.

  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.

  • A power outage that cripples electrical service to your home can threaten your family’s safety and damage your home and possessions. Due to the unpredictably of power outages, enact these measures to help ensure the safety of you and your family. 

For more information on disaster recovery and business continutiy planning, read these articles:

Categorized under: Business Continuity Planning  Disaster Recovery  Hedge Fund Operations  Communications  Software 



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