Power outages happen for a variety of reasons – storms, earthquakes, fires, scheduled maintenance from the electric company…and yes, even during renovation. Ours was a scheduled power outage to add hard-wired lights to our entertainment center. But, sometimes, even the best contractor will cut through live wires in a wall, which causes the power to go out and stay out until the wires can be repaired.
What is the first thing we should do to prepare for a power outage?
I believe knowledge is power so the first thing you can do is to KNOW your home. Whether you are renting an apartment or own a home, become familiar with your fuse box.
First, find it. Once you’ve found it, make sure that it is labelled correctly. Test it and label it when you have about 30 minutes to dedicate with a friend or family member. If there is a better way out there to do this than the old-fashioned yell back and forth, let me know. I do the slightly updated version…on FaceTime I test each fuse out with someone inside the house.
Many people are afraid of this but you don’t have to be! It’s really easy and empowering. Nothing bad will happen to test the system or to move the toggle switch back and forth. You may have to reset a clock or two, but it’s safe and important to know. There is also a “main” shut – off valve for the entire house. Just know where this is in case of emergency.
This will also help you determine if this is a real power outage, or just a circuit or fuse went out. If a circuit was tripped, you can easily reset it. If it is a true power outage, then move on to protecting you and your family.
How else can we protect our family & home during a power outage?
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.
- Emergency Kit -Keep an emergency kit on hand with all the essentials you’d need during an emergency.
One of the biggest questions I get regarding a power outage is the FRIDGE. Some say, as long as you keep it closed the food should be fine for a while but let’s dig a little deeper.
The answer is yes and no. The best thing to do is to keep your refrigerator and freezer closed. Try not to open it unless absolutely necessary. This will get you through a small power outage without too much loss.
But for overall safety, keep in mind that it varies, depending on your fridge – how old it is, how strong the seal is around the outside, how full it is – but typically a fridge will keep your food safe for only four hours! Luckily, the freezer will last longer. If it is half full, you have about 24 hours, and if it full you’ll have about 48 hours.
If you know that this power outage is going to happen, like during a renovation and the power will be out for more than 48 hours here is what you can do!
- Preemptively freeze your fresh meat, poultry, leftovers. Anything high in moisture will freeze well, and keeping it in the freezer rather than the refrigerator, will give you a higher chance of keeping it from spoiling.
If you’re surprised by the power outage, you need to make sure you protect yourself. Here are few things you can do!
- Open your fridge as little as possible. When you do, try to take everything you need out of it in one go. Eat meats and dairy items first because they are likely to spoil faster. Save canned foods and non-perishables for last. Once the refrigerator food has been diminished, eat the food in the freezer.
- Keep a temperature gauge in your freezer and fridge. When you finally have power again check the temperature gauge. Discard any perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items that have been kept in a refrigerator or freezer above 40 degrees F for two hours or more. This is the “danger zone” for when bacteria growth is higher than we want it to be. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Keep a cooler and freezer packs on hand. If you have medications that you need to keep refrigerated. Pick up a couple instant cold packs (the kind that activate on their own). You know, the kind you’d normally keep on an injury. Put them in a cooler with your meds and keep them as cool as possible. Check with your doctor to make sure that your medication would be safe this way.
Make sure you enter our Spring Fever competition where you could win $50,000 towards your own home renovation! How amazing is that? Details on how to enter can be found at Home & Family.