Essential steps to prepare for a power outage

  • Planning ahead
  • Homeowners insurance
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Power outages are a frustrating inconvenience. Whatever the cause, they disrupt our daily lives and leave us temporarily without electricity and the modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to. And every time we think to ourselves “I’ll be ready next time,” even though we know we’ll immediately forget that promise to ourselves once the hum of the refrigerator is back.

Not this time.

This time, you’ll prepare for power outages and be ready when the next one comes. Follow the steps below to be prepared for the next time and keep the inconvenience to a minimum.

How to prepare yourself for a power outage

Preparing for power outages is key to your household (and house) staying safe during an emergency. By taking proactive measures and following a power outage preparedness plan, you can mitigate potential risks and navigate challenging situations with ease. Once you have made these preparations and have plans in place, you’ll need to review and update your emergency preparedness plan regularly so that it remains effective with your changing circumstances.

  • Assemble an emergency preparedness kit – While your list of required items may vary, we recommend starting with this list:
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
    • Non-perishable food items
    • Bottled water
    • Extra blankets or sleeping bags
    • Necessary medications
    • Backup power source for medical devices
    • Items specific to the needs of family members such as extra diapers for a baby or treats for scared pets
  • Create a household evacuation plan – Outline designated meeting points and escape routes. Discuss this plan with your family members to be sure everyone understands what to do and where to go in the event of an evacuation. It’s a good idea to practice this in advance.
  • Stay stocked up on food, water and prescriptions – Have an ample supply to sustain your household for at least a few days. Rotate your emergency food and water supply periodically to maintain freshness and refill prescriptions a few days before you run out so you always have a couple doses available. If you or a family member relies on medical equipment, make arrangements for backup power or seek alternative accommodations during prolonged outages.
  • Plan for surge protection – Install surge protectors or uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for sensitive electronic devices. These devices can safeguard against power surges when the electricity is restored and potential damage.
  • Get a portable generator – These can be used as a backup power source during outages. Check reviews to find one that is safe and fits your needs. These are dangerous pieces of equipment so consider your options and weigh the pros and cons to decide if using a generator is right for you.
  • Fuel up and charge electronics – Make sure you have enough fuel for your vehicle in case you need to evacuate. Charge mobile phones, laptops and other devices in case of extended power loss. Limit their use during an outage to conserve battery life.
  • Download or print any documents you may need – Keep these documents in a waterproof and easily accessible place. This way you have access to vital information even if electronic devices are unavailable. Only you know what documents are important, but a good list to start with is:
    • Identification papers
    • Insurance policies
    • Emergency contacts
  • Load up on light sources – Keep a good supply of batteries and matches in your emergency kit for long-lasting and efficient lighting. Consider some of these lighting sources:
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What to do during a power outage

During a power outage, exercise caution and prioritize safety of yourself and others. Use your best judgement about how to do these suggestions safely.

  • Monitor local alerts – Stay informed about the power outage and any updates by listening to a battery-powered radio or checking social media of the utility companies and local news for information on estimated restoration times and safety advisories.
  • Keep food cold – To maintain the cold temperature in your refrigerator and freezer, avoid opening them unnecessarily. A closed refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours, while a closed freezer can maintain its temperature for about 24-48 hours, depending on its fullness. If the outage is prolonged, consider using coolers with ice packs for essential perishable items. Consider alternative methods of food preparation, such as using a camp stove or grill.
  • Use appliances sparingly – When using a generator, prioritize necessities such as refrigeration, cooking and heating. Battery-operated appliances should also be used as little as possible to avoid using the entire charge. Avoid using large power-consuming devices that are not essential.
  • Prevent power overloads – To prevent power overloads when the power is restored, turn off and unplug major appliances and electronic devices. This step helps avoid a sudden surge in power demand.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and fire – Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be produced by generators, stoves and other fuel-burning devices. Never use these devices inside your home or enclosed spaces. Maintain proper ventilation if you need to use a generator outside and install carbon monoxide detectors in your home to provide an early warning of any buildup.
  • Decide if you need to evacuate or not – Evaluate the situation based on the duration and reason for the outage, the temperature in your house and if it will be too hot or cold to inhabit and information from local authorities. If necessary, follow your evacuation plan to leave the area.

Power outages may be temporary inconveniences, but they can also lead to damage and losses. For example, your food may spoil or your electronics may be damaged. Some homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for some of these possible losses. Review your policy, or ask the VIU by HUB Advisory Team for help understanding your specific coverages so you’re prepared for power outage losses and claims.

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