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POWER

DON'T LET POWER OUTAGES LEAVE YOU IN THE DARK
TAKE CARE TO PREPARE

Hot summer days mean increased energy use for air conditioning. This can put a real strain on power supplies, potentially leading to temporary power outages. Be ready to stay safe and healthy before and during any blackouts this summer by following these American Red Cross tips:

Assemble Essential Supplies Ahead of Time:

  • Flashlight (remember, due to the extreme risk of fire, candles should not be used during a power outage).
     
  • Portable radio
     
  • Extra batteries for the flashlight and portable radio
     
  • At least one gallon of water per person per day
     
  • A small supply of food
     
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

Prepare Your Home

  • If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water). Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
     
  • If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.

Prepare your Electronic Equipment

  • If you use a computer, keep files and operating systems backed up regularly. Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer. A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle. Also, turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they're not being used. That way, if the power goes out, this equipment will have already been safely shut down.
     
  • Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment. If you frequently use the computer for recreation or a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment dealer about available equipment and costs.
     
  • If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you in case the garage door will not open.
     
  • If you have a telephone instrument or system at home or at work that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication, including having a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio, or pager. Remember, too, that some voice mail systems and remote dial-up servers for computer networks may not operate when the power is out where these systems are located. So even if you have power, your access to remote technology may be interrupted if the power that serves those areas is disrupted. Check with remote service providers to see if they have backup power systems, and how long those systems will operate.
     
  • Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts.

What Do I Do During A Blackout?

  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
     
  • Leave one light turned on so you'll know when your power returns.
     
  • Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
     
  • Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information -- only call to report a life-threatening emergency.
     
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
     
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage.
     
  • If it is hot outside, take steps to remain cool:
    Move to the lowest level of your home, as cool air falls.
    Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
    Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
    If the heat is intense and the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall, or "cooling shelter" that may be opened in your community.
    Listen to local radio or television for more information.

Specific Information for People with Disabilities

  • If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system or other power-dependent equipment, call your power company before rolling blackouts happen. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Ask them what alternatives are available in your area. Contact the customer service department of your local utility company(ies) to learn if this service is available in your community.
     
  • If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.
     
  • If you are blind or have a visual disability, store a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.
     
  • If you are deaf or have a hearing loss, consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.

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