Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shedding Light on a Power Outage

Not long ago, right here in Tulare and Kings Counties, we had a power outage.  That’s not surprising considering that they do happen from time to time.  What I did find surprising was how many people asked me afterward “What was I supposed to do?” or “How am I supposed to prepare for a blackout?”  One person told me they were so unprepared for it, they were struggling to find fresh batteries for a flashlight during the blackout.  If you’re trying to prepare for a disaster when it strikes, you’re probably too late to start.

Here are some tips to prepare yourself, your family, and your home for a power outage.

In addition to having an emergency preparedness kit ready, you should also prepare by:
-Keeping ice chests on hand to store perishable food.
-Having a corded phone on hand as they will likely work even when there is no power.
-A backup generator, especially if a resident is dependent upon life-sustaining equipment.

During a blackout:
-Turn off appliances and electronics but leave one light on to know when power has been restored.
-When using a portable generator, connect the equipment directly to the generator; do not connect the generator to the home’s electrical system.

After a blackout:
-Throw out any unsafe food, including food that was exposed to temperatures of 40° F and higher for two hours or longer.
-Carbon monoxide is a very serious danger, so don’t use generators, grills, and the like in a partially-closed space.  If your carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds, quickly move to an area with fresh air and call for help.

Here are some helpful numbers and links:
Downed power lines: call 911
Information on underground power lines: call 811
To report an outage, Southern California Edison customers should call 800.611.1911 and Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers should call 800.743.5002.

American Red Cross Power Outage Safety Information: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage

American Red Cross Power Outage Checklist: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340180_PowerOutage.pdf

Amitai "Tai" S. Zuckerman
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator, Community Preparedness and Resilience Services
American Red Cross – Tulare and Kings Counties

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