Power outages can be a massive inconvenience. Alarm clocks don’t go off and you have to shower in the dark. Navigate your morning, evening, or even daytime routine without lighting or air conditioning or heat. Moreover, it can cause problems with your food as well as your water, putting the health of your family at risk.
If the power outage continues for more than four hours, food in your refrigerator and freezer will likely begin to spoil, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the power outage does last longer than four hours, pack dairy products, fish, eggs, meat, and spoilable leftovers into a ice-filled cooler. A full freezer can keep food from spoiling for up to two days, while a freezer that is only half full only keeps food safe for 24 hours, the CDC says. If you experience a power outage, avoid opening the freezer and refrigerator doors.
Check the temperature of any food you plan to eat with a food thermometer. Toss into the trash any food that is over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, because it has likely begun to spoil.
Power outages can also halt water purification systems, according to the CDC. If you rely on filtered water for drinking, cooking, showering, and brushing your teeth, it’s best to rely on treated, boiled, or bottled water until the power comes back on.
Check to ensure the bottled water is from a safe source before consuming it or using it for cooking or personal hygiene. If you’re unsure, treat or boil it before using it. Boiling water for just one minute can kill harmful parasites and bacteria.
If necessary, you can use chlorine dioxide tablets or iodine to make the water safe. Packages of these things include instructions for use.
It is advisable to keep a hurricane or emergency kit on hand for times when you are without power, even if there is no storm.
In your emergency kit, consider packing the following items:
- 1 gallon of water per person per day (suggest 3 days worth)
- Three-day supply of non perishable food items, such as canned goods
- Battery powered or hand crank radio
- Battery powered or hand crank flashlight
- First-aid kit
- Toilet paper and moist towelettes
- Garbage bags and twist ties
- Can opener
- Cell phone and charger
- Whistle or some kind of noisemaker to signal for aid