Safety is our number one priority, and during an outage, keeping yourself safe should also be your number one priority. See our Outage Tips for more information on what you can do during an outage.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (external link), food safety is directly related to the temperature of the food. To maintain refrigerator and freezer temperatures, keep doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for approximately two days and a half-full freezer approximately one day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (external link) offers the following guidelines for if your power is out for more than four hours. If it is out for less than four hours, the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume.
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.
Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam 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.
If you come across a downed power line, leave the area and report it immediately by calling 800-895-1999. Never approach a downed power line. Always assume that they are energized and extremely dangerous. Touching a live line or anything near it, such as a fence, puddle, car, etc., can cause electrocution. This could result in serious injury and even death.
If a power line has fallen onto a vehicle, stay away and seek help right away by calling 911. If you are in the vehicle, wait inside the vehicle until help arrives. You are safe from electrical shock as long as you stay inside the vehicle. If you must leave the vehicle due to fire or other life-threatening reasons, leap clear of the vehicle, landing with both feet together. Don't hold the door while leaping and once on the ground, hop or shuffle away. Do not run.
Turn off appliances and other electrical equipment, including air conditioning, to avoid a high load on the system once electricity is restored. Leave one light switch turned, on so you’ll know when power has been restored.
If you need to cook during an outage, use a properly vented fireplace, a camp stove, or a can of Sterno. Be sure that there is adequate ventilation and never use charcoal indoors. If you have a natural gas stove or oven without an electric ignition, you can use that as well.
If using a space heater, take care to ensure safety, as thousands of home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. When using a space heater, make sure the heater has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory and read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels. You should also inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs and connections. Don’t use it if they are frayed, worn, or damaged. Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when leaving a room and don’t go to sleep with a space heater on.
Improper installation and use of standby generators may violate state or local electrical codes and can severely endanger those working to restore your power. During power outages, our crews work from maps to locate disconnects. Improperly connected generators may re-energize lines that otherwise would be off, creating "back feed." Back feed occurs when electric power is introduced to the utility's power lines from generators with faulty connections. In the case of back feed, lines expected to be de-energized are in fact live, and it could potentially electrocute crew members attempting to make repairs.
Set your hot water heater to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn't just energy smart—it's also safer, since it reduces the likelihood of accidental burns.
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