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How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Summer’s thunderstorms, windstorms and other inclement weather patterns increase the chances for a power outage. While most outages don’t last for very long, it’s best to be prepared so that you can stay safe during the outage. Here’s what you should do when a power outage occurs.

PREPARE A 72-HOUR EMERGENCY KIT

In case you need to get by without lighting, heating and running water, prepare a supply of emergency food and first aid items. Supplies include bottled water (3 litres per person a day), ready-to-eat food and essential medication. Keep fresh batteries and a flashlight on hand. Your kit’s supplies should be modified to suit your family’s needs if you have small children or pets. Check your kit twice a year to make sure food and medications aren’t expired.

UNPLUG ELECTRONICS

In case of a surge when power is restored, unplug all electronic items. This includes computers, televisions and appliances. If you have electric heating, turn down your thermostat. Another option for smaller appliances and electronics is to purchase a surge protecting power bar to prevent damage.

KEEP THE FRIDGE AND FREEZER SHUT

Minimize how often you open the fridge and freezer to retain temperature. The fridge can only maintain a safe temperature for about four hours if unopened, however a freezer will keep at a safe temperature for 24 to 48 hours (a fuller freezer keeps for longer). Instead, store food items that you plan to consume over the next day or two in a cooler with ice or ice packs.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Do not use camp stoves or barbecues indoors as they emit harmful carbon dioxide. Don’t use gas stoves as a heating source. Don’t leave candles unattended. Do not approach downed power lines — stay at least 10 metres away. But do report them to your local hydro authority. If there is flooding in your basement, stay away from any electrical equipment in the area.

PURCHASE A GENERATOR

If you are anticipating more frequent or longer-term power outages, consider purchasing a portable generator. These are gas-powered units that you can use to power essential appliances such as the refrigerator, sump pump, furnace and hot water heater. Be sure not to run a generator indoors or in an enclosed space like a closed garage as harmful carbon monoxide emissions can build up quickly.