Planning for a power outage will also help prepare you for other types of emergencies. Read the following guide, keep it in a handy spot, such as in your emergency kit and be ready when a power outage happens.
Step 1: Prepare Your Home
- You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
- If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
- Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with the furnace, appliance, and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.
People with disabilities or others requiring assistance
Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:
- Your evacuation route — without elevator service (if applicable)
- Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment
- Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help
- Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency
- Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized
- Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment
- Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment
- If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
During A Power Outage
- First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbors' power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
- If your neighbors' power is also out, notify Oncor Electric power company.
- Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment, and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down to a minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Also, power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
- Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.
- Don't open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
- Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can't smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
- Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed.
- Listen to your battery-powered or crank radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.
- Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it is hard-wired to the house's electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
- Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting power bar.
Use of home generators
Home generators are handy for backup electricity in case of an outage, but must only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. A backup generator may only be connected to your home's electrical system through an approved transfer panel and switch that has been installed by a qualified electrician. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as serious injury can result when the current produced by the home generator is fed back into the electrical lines, and transformed to a higher voltage. This can endanger the lives of utility employees working to restore the power.
To operate a generator safely:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Ensure that the generator operates outdoors in well-ventilated conditions, well away from doors or windows, to prevent exhaust gases from entering the house.
- Connect lights and appliances directly to the generator. If extension cords must be used, ensure they are properly rated, approved cords.
Step 2: Make an Emergency Plan
Every Trophy Club household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family to know what to do in case of an emergency. Remember, your family may not be together when the power goes out.
Start by discussing what could happen and what you should do at home, at school or at work if an emergency happens. To be prepared, make a list of what needs to be done ahead of time. Store important family documents, such as birth certificates, passports, wills, financial documents, insurance policies, etc. in a waterproof container(s). Identify an appropriate out-of-town contact that can act as a central point of contact in an emergency.
Write down and exercise your plan with the entire family at least once a year. Make sure everybody has a copy and keeps it close at hand.
Step 3: Get an Emergency Kit
In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, and water. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?
Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the emergency kit is.
Basic emergency kit:
- Water – at least two liters of water per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
- Food that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)
- Manual can opener
- Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
- Wind-up or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
- First aid kit
- Special items such as prescription medications, infant formula, and equipment for people with disabilities
- Extra keys to your car and house
- Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills (travelers' checks are also useful) and change for payphones
- A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
Tip: You may want to ensure you have a land-line and corded phone in your home, as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage.
Recommended additional items:
- Candles and matches or lighter (do not leave candles unattended. Place candles in sturdy containers and put them out before going to sleep)
- A change of clothing and footwear for each household member
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
- A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
- Garbage bags for personal sanitation
- Toilet paper and other personal care supplies
- Safety gloves
- Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, safety gloves)
- Small fuel-driven stove and fuel (follow manufacturer's directions and store properly)
- Two extra liters of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning.