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What you should do during a power outage

By Tiffany Reynolds

In February 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made it clear: No one could guarantee power during a storm whipping through the state. For residents, this was a clear sign that they needed to know what to do in a power outage.

If you live in Texas, you know the dangers of power disruptions, especially during a freezing winter storm. Last year, hundreds of people died after being without power for days. You need to be prepared so that you and your family can remain safe and comfortable, no matter what.

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The team at Power Wizard — a transparent Texas-based business connecting residents with the most affordable power companies — has seen it all. Part of Power Wizard’s mission is to teach Texas residents about the state’s unique power grid and how to find the best plan for their household.

Every home is vulnerable to power outages and power surges. Here are nine power outage tips to stay safe this winter.

How to manage a power outage

Whether it’s the peak time of day or the middle of the night, you must prepare for the possibility of a power outage in your home. If you and your family know what to do, you’ll be less likely to panic — or place yourself in danger.

1. Verify your outage isn’t a blown fuse or breaker issue

When the lights and power to other electronic devices fail in your home, most homeowners immediately suspect there’s a more extensive power outage on the rest of the Texas power grid. But first, you should check that there isn’t a problem that’s only affecting your home, like a blown fuse.

Check your breaker box, which may have a tripped switch. The circuit breaker might be a little loose or may have orange showing. You might need to flip the breaker so that it is secure in place. If this fixes the power issue at your home, problem solved.

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2. Contact your utility provider to report outage

If you see your neighbors are also without power, it’s a good idea to call your utility provider right away. The officials may not know the power is out in your area. Especially during winter storms, gusts of wind and blowing landscaping can cause power lines to break easily. There isn’t necessarily a computerized system that immediately alerts your power company to problems. And if there is, those systems can fail, too.

Don’t presume anyone else contacted the power company. Your neighbors might not know what to do in a winter power outage, and they’ll benefit from your help. Your report will get your community on the map of repair technicians.

3. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed

It may be tempting to search for a snack to distract yourself from the stress of the outage — but think first! Your food can stay good for up to four hours in an unopened refrigerator. If you must open the door, do so with a purpose and close it immediately. The longer it is open, the faster food will spoil.

Deeply frozen foods in your freezer — provided the door stays closed — can keep for one to two days. Freezers keep foods safe longer when they’re completely filled. If you need to fill up space, fill empty plastic two-liter bottles with water and freeze them.

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If you’re wondering what to do with food in a power outage, consider ways to prepare what you have in your refrigerator without needing power. Have coolers with ice available to keep perishable foods chilled.

4. Turn off each light and disconnect appliances

Next, ensure that all the lights that were on before the power went out are turned off. You should also disconnect your appliances. This is necessary to protect your electrical equipment from surges in voltage that can happen when power is restored.

An easy way to prepare for this task is to have surge power strips that allow you to turn off more than one of your devices at a time.

5. Have a first-aid kit and cell phone close by

Storms can wreak havoc in other ways besides forcing you to know what to do in a power outage. Plenty of other situations can occur that will require you to render care to yourself or someone in your household.

Always know where a first aid kit and your cell phone are located. Also, make sure that your first aid kit is fully stocked. In case of emergencies, have a variety of sizes of plasters and sterile gauze dressings, as well as eye dressings, sterile gloves, safety pins, tweezers, and many kinds of bandages. If you’ve used something, replace it right away.

6. Gather plenty of water and food supplies

It’s crucial to have a supply of nonperishable food for yourself and everyone in your family, including the pets. A basic preparedness kit has enough food and water for every household member for three days.

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Plan on storing one gallon of water per person per day. If the power grid fails, the pumps that make the water supply available can fail, too. You may want to fill jugs with water and store them in your bathroom to use for bathing, too.

7. Bundle up with several layers in cold weather

Hopefully, your home is adequately insulated, and you’ve been running the heat before any power outage. But regardless, the average home will stay warm for eight to 12 hours. For extended power outages, you need to think ahead to keep yourself comfortable and safe.

Find blankets and bundle up with many layers of clothes, even if it seems silly inside the house. It is easier to maintain body heat than warm yourself up once you’ve gotten cold. You may need to seek shelter at the closest community facility if it stays cold. Know where your nearest emergency center is from your house.

8. Locate a cold center to escape the heat in hot weather

On the other hand, if the power outage happens in the hottest months of the summer, you’ll want those blankets as far away as possible. In hot weather, stay hydrated and seek a shelter that offers cool-down facilities with generator power. The place designated as a shelter during the cold months is likely the same place that will help you stay cool when needed. But it’s best to double-check.

9. Monitor local news and updates with a battery-operated radio

In your emergency kit, include battery-powered devices, like a radio, a fan, and lights. Don’t forget to have extra batteries for all of your different electronics.

Then, use the radio to monitor updates from local news stations. The radio may also be an enjoyable form of entertainment.

Take preventative measures against a power outage

Knowing what to do in a power outage is an effective way that families can rest assured that they will be prepared when the next one comes. Unfortunately, it’s not so much an “if” but a “when.”

Have a family meeting with everyone in your household to discuss the plan before the next outage. Delegate tasks and priorities for each person so everyone will feel ready to help during these stressful situations.

You can invest in a quality electrical plan to help during power outages. You won’t have to worry about hidden fees and extra hassles from companies you don’t need to do business with. This is where Power Wizard can help.

Learn more about how the Power Wizard process works to get you the best energy plan.

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