Power Outage

Safety tips to help you prepare for and cope with sudden loss of power.

What You Should Know

  • Have a battery or hand-crank operated radio to listen for emergency instructions (KOGO 600 AM or KLSD 1360 AM). Store the batteries outside of the radio so that they do not corrode.
  • Have a basic telephone, one that does not require electricity to operate. Cordless phones may not work during a power outage.
  • Throw away food that has a temperature higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check with local authorities to be sure your water is safe.
  • To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators, pressure washers, grills, and similar items outdoors only.
  • In hot weather, stay cool and drink plenty of fluids to prevent heat-related illness.
  • In cold weather, wear layers of clothing, which help to keep in body heat.
  • Avoid power lines and use electric tools and appliances safely to prevent electrical shock.

Food Safety

If the power is out for less than four hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer should be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.

If the power is out for longer than four hours, follow the guidelines below:

  • For the freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
  • For the refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Small coolers are fine for this purpose.
  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Safe Drinking Water

When power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning fully. Safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene includes bottled, boiled, or treated water.

  • Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added to it.
  • If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
  • If you don't have clean, safe bottled water, and if boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets. These can kill most harmful organisms, such as viruses and bacteria. However, only chlorine dioxide tablets are effective in controlling more resistant organisms.
  • Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bring water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms.

For more information regarding Food and Water Safety, see the Food and Water in an Emergency Guide from FEMA and the American Red Cross.