Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. If a power outage is two hours or less, you do not need to be concerned about losing your perishable foods. For prolonged power outages, though, you may need to take steps to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.
If you see a downed power line, transformer, or other electric equipment, don’t approach it. Lines may still be carrying potentially lethal current, and transformers contain dangerous chemicals. Keep others away and call 9-1-1 to report the hazard.
Both of Fayette County’s electricity companies have outage maps on their websites. These maps show not only the locations of outages, but their approximate extent and the expected time of resolution. You can view them on your smartphone even if your computer is powerless.
IMPORTANT!: If there’s damage to the electric lines that connect the electric utility’s lines to your home, workers will not reconnect power to your home. Damage need to be repaired by a licensed electrician and inspected.
Here’s an explanation of what the utility company and the homeowner/property owner is responsible for.
Exercise extreme caution when approaching any intersection with unlit traffic signals. Under state law, an intersection whose signals are out is treated as an all-way stop sign. Red flashing signals are also treated as stop signs and a flashing yellow signal indicates extreme caution. Watch out for other drivers who aren’t paying attention or don’t know this!
Eliminate unnecessary driving. If the power is out over a wide area, the loss of traffic signals and street lights will make for congested roads and dangerous intersections.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use your non-perishable foods and staples last.
Use a cooler with ice. If you expect the power outage to last longer than two hours, move your perishable foods from your refrigerator and freezer into a cooler. Place ice on top to keep food cool longer.
Maintain food storage safety. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
Protect your electronics. Turn off or disconnect any appliances, power tools, computers, or entertainment electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Leave a few lights turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
Protect your circuit breakers. Turning off and unplugging all non-essential devices also can prevent overload conditions. If your house is drawing its full normal load when power is restored, the sudden surge can trip breakers or even shut down your local circuit again.
Keep your smartphone working. As long as the cellular network is up, your smartphone is a powerful tool for staying aware of the situation and staying in touch with your loved ones. Check out our tips for keeping your phone charged when the power is out.
Have work-arounds for other technology. Do you know how to raise your garage door if there’s no power to run the opener’s motor? How about cooking without a microwave or electric oven?
If using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect the generator to a building’s electrical system.
If you’re considering installing a permanent backup generator, consult a licensed electrician. Proper installation, leveling, and other considerations will ensure your generator works as intended, will prevent fire hazards, and will ensure you stay in compliance with all applicable electrical codes.