When the lights go out, you have a few choices. Stay calm, assess the situation and decide what you can do to make your family safe and comfortable.
Keep a few items on hand to meet your needs in case the power goes out – flashlights, battery-operated radios, matches or candles, bottled water and non-perishable food. Assemble a disaster preparedness kit and store it in an easily accessible place. Consider a backup generator, charging stations for cell phones and medical supplies that don’t require refrigeration. If you use medical devices that need electricity or take medications that must be kept refrigerated, talk to your healthcare provider about a power outage plan.
Check the circuit breakers to see if they are in the “off” position, which could indicate an electrical fault is responsible for the outage. Then check to see if other homes on your block have lost power. If it’s widespread, report the problem to your utility company.
Gather your family together in a part of the house that will be warmest or coolest depending on the season, and turn off anything that isn’t essential – TVs, computers, etc. Unplug appliances, too – when the power comes back on, they may experience a surge that can damage them. Remember that municipal water services may not be functioning during a blackout, so fill bathtubs, sinks or buckets with water to last one to three days. Keep a stash of water in the freezer, as well.