Follow these steps to prepare your home and family in case the power goes out.
There you are, just minding your own business, when a big wind comes along and knocks out your power. It can happen to anyone at any time, and it’s a hassle. But the better prepared you are, the easier it will be to get through the outage comfortably and safely.
Build a Kit
Before the power ever goes out, assemble an emergency preparedness kit. Here are some items to include, as recommended by the American Red Cross:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food to last each person at least three days
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Medications and medical supplies to last each person at least seven days
- Sanitation and personal hygiene products
- Essential personal documents such as medication lists and insurance policies
- Cell phone with wall and car chargers
- Corded land phone, which may work even if the power is out
- Pet food and supplies, including water
- Emergency contact information for friends and family
Once the power goes out, put refrigerated and frozen items into the freezer quickly and group them together to help them stay cold, suggests the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Use an appliance thermometer to check for safe temperature levels of 0°F in the freezer and 40°F or below in the fridge.
Keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as you can. Food will stay cold for about four hours in the fridge and about 48 hours in the freezer if it’s full. Beyond those time frames, throw away perishable food.
Never use generators, grills or camp stoves powered by propane, natural gas or charcoal indoors. Once the power comes back on, stay away from electrical power lines and report downed lines to your local power company.
Stay in Contact
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a mobile phone app that lets you record family emergency meeting spots, find shelters and disaster recovery centers, check off items in your emergency kit and more. The app is available for many devices; check with your provider.
No matter what kind of mobile phone you have, you can also text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA) for monthly preparedness tips—or text SHELTER and your ZIP code to find the nearest emergency shelter.
Are You Ready to Save? Nationwide policyholders get up to a 15 percent discount on home insurance when their homes have smoke detectors, fire alarms, burglar alarms or other qualifying protective devices. Ask your agent if you qualify for the protective device discount.