A power outage may:

  • Disrupt communications, water and transportation.
  • Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services.
  • Cause food spoilage and water contamination.
  • Prevent use of medical devices.

    Before an Outage

    • Take an inventory now of the items you need that rely on electricity.
    • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
    • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
    • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems. Monitor weather reports.
    • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
    • Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member.
    • Have enough nonperishable food and water. FEMA recommends at least a three day supply. FEMA has an excellent guide on food and water storage during an emergency.
    • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored.
    • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.
    Lightning bolt with a line through it


    During an Outage

    • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer.
    • Use food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
    • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
    • Check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
    • Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
    • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.
    • Use a generator, but ONLY outdoors and away from windows.
    • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.

    After an Outage

    • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
    • After an outage, it make take some time for the electrical system to stabilize. Wait a few minutes once the power comes back on to reconnect non-essential electronics and appliances.

    Useful Links

    Power Outage Tip Sheet

    FEMA - Food & Water in an Emergency

    FEMA - How to build an Emergency Kit

    USDA Food Safety website