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Emergency Preparedness

Posted on: September 22, 2021

Safety Tips During a Power Outage

A yellow triangle sign with a black lightning bolt, a flashlight, and a dark house with no lights on

Stay safe during a power outage:

Food Safety:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed to prevent food from spoiling. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Use coolers with ice if necessary.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to monitor temperatures. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • Use food supplies that do not require refrigeration, as well as a can opener, and keep enough on hand for seven days if possible.
  • Keep enough drinking water around the house for the duration of the power outage; the recommended amount is 1 gallon of water per person or pet per day.
  • Take perishable food items to friends or family in the area who will not be impacted by the outage and have enough refrigeration capacity to keep them for you.

Appliance Safety:

  • DO NOT use generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills indoors; they should be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. NEVER use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Carbon monoxide fumes can be deadly.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that may cause damage.
  • Keep a flashlight and spare batteries on hand.
  • Learn how to open your garage door manually.

Transportation Safety:

  • Try to minimize time on the road – street lights and signals will be out in areas affected. If you do need to head out, drive safely and slowly, and treat an intersection without a working traffic light as if it were a four-way stop sign.
  • Check for current conditions, road closures, and transit changes. 
  • Sign up for free transportation emergency alerts with 511Alert.
  • Follow @511SFBay on Twitter for real-time alerts.
  • Keep your gas tanks full, if possible. Gas stations may close during a power outage. Banks and ATMs may also be inaccessible during a power outage, so keep cash on hand.

Medical Safety:

  • Use alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or power-dependent medical devices.
  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.
  • Restock your first aid supply kit.

Communication Safety:

  • Keep mobile phones charged with portable or other charging alternatives if possible.
  • Check if your home phone is working.
  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems and monitor weather reports.
  • Keep on hand a radio that is either battery-powered, solar-powered or hand crank.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those that are elderly or that have children.

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