Spring storms can bring power outages but they can happen anytime and usually do happen at the most inconvenient times. Whether it lasts a second or two hours, you can minimize the problems and safety hazards of a power outages by following these simple suggestions.  These will protect your family AND your Chapel Hill home!

Be Prepared

Don’t wait for a power outage to buy emergency supplies, be prepared and have everything you need on hand. If your power goes out, it’s likely you could find the store shelves raided and empty during a power outage. It is a good idea to purchase emergency home kits and store them in a general area in your home so you won’t be searching for needed supplies in the dark in an emergency. While most power outages are short-lived, but some may last days. Here are some things to consider for a long-term outage. Stock up on:

•  Matches and disposable lighters.
•  Flashlights and extra batteries.  It is recommended you not use candles unless necessary to avoid fire risks.
Battery operated radio and extra batteries
•  Canned goods and dry food mixes. Water and juices. Don’t forget the hand-operated can opener
•  Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs and prescription medications
•  Paper plates, cups and plastic utensils.
First-aid kit
•  Fire Extinguisher

Refrigerated Food Safety

Refrigerated food must be kept at temperatures of 40 degrees to avoid spoiling. Do not taste food to figure out if it’s safe to eat.

• A closed refrigerator will keep food safe for about four hours.
• A closed freezer will maintain food quality for about 48 hours if full, 24 hours if half full.
• 50 pounds of
dry ice will keep a freezer cold for two days.
• If your power outage lasts longer than four to eight hours, discard the following items:
• Eggs
• Mayonnaise
• Leftovers
• Milk products (except butter)
• Fresh meats, poultry and seafood
• Soft cheeses, low-fat cheese and shredded cheese
• Creamy-based dressings, gravy and spaghetti sauce
• After six hours of a power outage, discard all frozen products except breads, nuts, hard cheeses and fruit juices.

During an Outage

• Turn off all the major appliances in your home, especially the heat pump. This will prevent damage to the appliances once the power is restored. Turn on appliances one at a time so the electric demand does not jump suddenly.
• Make sure the oven and stove are off; this will prevent fires if the power comes back on while you’re away. Do not set dishes, towels, or paper on the stove; these may catch on fire if a burner is on when the power comes on.
• Leave the freezer and refrigerator closed. This will help food stay fresh longer.
• Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with power lines may result in serious injury or death.  Report any downed lines to your power company and leave the clean-up and repair work to the professionals

Other Storm Preparedness Tips

• If you use electrically powered life-support equipment, ask your doctor about emergency battery backup systems.
• Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as computers, televisions and other devices, with surge suppressors.
• Make sure you know how to safely reset your circuit breaker or change fuses. Keep extra fuses on hand.
• If a well is your source for water, plan ahead to determine how you will get drinking water. Store containers of water for cooking and washing.
• Know how to open your garage door manually if it is equipped with an automatic opener.

Power outages can be caused by storms, accidents in which the power lines or poles have been knocked down, circuit overloads, a number of things!  These can cause you to be without power for an extended period of time. But no matter how long you are out of power, it can cause you a lot of disruption to your lives! Take the time and prepare for power outages. Gain the knowledge that you need to be able to respond effectively and safely during the outages.  Preparations can make it a lot less inconvenient!