Prepare for a Power Outage
Stock up supplies and plan ahead so you’re ready for an extended power outage.
In Dallas County, a severe thunderstorm cut off power for two days in 2019. About 350,000 people were affected and more than 40% of traffic signals in the city of Dallas were inoperable. Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive storm in U.S. history, left 1.7 million people without power. In August 2017, more than a quarter-million people in Texas were without power after Hurricane Harvey made landfall — and some spent weeks in the dark.
While these are extreme examples of dramatic weather and power loss, severe storms, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters can cause major power outages anywhere, at any time. Without adequate preparation, even a short time without power can be uncomfortable, frightening and sometimes dangerous. Thankfully, planning for the unexpected doesn’t have to be difficult or time-intensive. The following tips can help.
Get local alerts. Wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) may be sent by state and local safety officials regarding imminent threats. There is no need to subscribe, but you can check with your service provider to make sure you have a WEA-capable device.
Build an emergency kit. Assemble your emergency kit with items in airtight containers. Visit ready.gov/kit for a complete list. Some items to include:
- Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days
- Food: nonperishable items that don’t need to be heated
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- Multipurpose tool
- First-aid kit
- Cloth face coverings
- Medications and other necessary medical supplies
- Soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
- Personal hygiene items
- Local maps
- Cellphone and chargers with a backup battery
- Contact information for family
Take an inventory. Make a list of essential items that require electricity and develop a backup plan for powering these items. Talk to your medical provider about backup power for critical medical devices.
Be ready with lighting. A variety of light sources, including flashlights, headlamps and lanterns, can help illuminate any situation. Make sure you have enough batteries to keep them running for a week or more. Experts discourage the use of candles due to the risk of fire.
Keep cash on hand. ATMs will not work during power outages and merchants won’t be able to process card payments.
Gas up. Gas stations use electricity to power their pumps, so keep your car’s tank at least half full at all times.
During a Blackout
The following advice can help keep you, your family and your home safe.
Unplug. Disconnect electrical equipment such as air conditioners, refrigerators and computers. When the power returns, it could surge and damage electronics.
Seal the refrigerator and freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep its temperature for about four hours; a full freezer will maintain its temperature for up to 48 hours if kept closed. If the power outage could last more than a day, consider filling a cooler with ice for food in the freezer.
Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Use generators, camp stoves and charcoal grills outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.
Stay home. Traveling during a massive power outage can be dangerous as traffic signals will not work.
Be Ready for Anything
In a disaster recovery situation, you don’t want to have to worry about checks getting lost in the mail or late bill payments. Set up direct deposit and electronic bill payment now so your important financial transactions will be done automatically. Learn more about Emergency Preparedness Resources from Amegy Bank.