8 tips for what to do if there’s a power outage

Living near Atlanta, we’re lucky that we’re not faced with too many natural disasters. We get the odd tornado warning (and actual tornado – remember 2008?) and sometimes some ice during the winter, but we typically don’t get hit by hurricanes, mudslides, wildfires, and the like. But even so, we’re not immune to power outages. Though we may not get hurricanes, we still get severe storms with heavy rain, which can knock out the electricity. We also have very hot summers. The heat puts a strain on the power supply as the air-conditioners blast away, and that strain can also cause a power outage.

Anyways, the point is that you need to be prepared for what to do if the power does kick off all of a sudden. It’s important to stay safe and be prepared – there are some things that you should and should not do if you’re suddenly plunged into darkness when a power outage strikes.

1. Don’t play with matches.

Use flashlights. Repeat: use flashlights. Candles have a nasty habit of getting knocked over and catching things on fire, as if you didn’t already have enough to deal with! You don’t want to risk any singed fingers or hair. Plus, candles are messy.

2. Power down.

If the power goes out, it’s a good idea to unplug your electronic devices. This might seem counterproductive. The power’s already out, so why bother unplugging things or turning them off?

The trouble comes when the power kicks back on after the power outage. The sudden flood of electricity can create a mini-surge. Mini-surges are not good for your electronics – your computers, your AC unit, and your fridge are all at risk. The electricity being pumped into these devices can fry them, so to avoid toasting your computer go ahead and unplug it.

3. Keep the fridge shut tight.

To keep your food cool and edible for as long as possible, keep the doors to your fridge and freezer closed. Try to avoid opening them if you can. The goal is to keep your food fresh by trapping the cooler air inside.

If the power’s out long enough, you might not have a choice but to eat the food that should have been refrigerated. Be mindful that this food may have gone bad. Check thoroughly for any sign that it’s not good anymore—you don’t want to get sick.

Note: If anyone in your family takes medication that needs to be kept refrigerated, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist ahead of time about what you should do if you have a power outage. Next time you’re at an appointment, try to remember to ask them.

4. Be smart with your generator.

First rule: keep the generator outside. This means outside of the garage, too. Generators can throw off carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Don’t put it in the house.

Second rule: don’t hook the generator up to your home’s electrical system. If you want to plug anything in, use the outlets on the generator.

5. Stay informed.

Use a radio or TV that’s powered by generator or battery to listen to any updates about the power outage. Don’t call 911 just to get information—only call if there’s an emergency.

6. Mind the weather.

Power outages tend to happen at the least opportune times. Do what you can to stay comfortable.

If it’s hot outside, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Camp out on the lowest level of the house, as cool air is heavier than warm air and will stay lower to the ground. You may have to go somewhere that still has air conditioning or somewhere that you know will be cooler than your home.

If it’s cold, bundle up. Layers are fantastic. Dig out the fuzzy socks, cozy sweaters, and quilts. Don’t use charcoal or your oven to stay warm – instead, try to find a place in your community, like a mall, that has heat and head over if it’s too cold to stay in your house. Or hang out with family or friends if they happen to have heat.

7. Take care of the pets.

Your pets still need clean, fresh water and kibble. Make sure to give them what they need during the power outage – they’re probably confused by the commotion! Fido will thank you.

8. Keep things fun.

If the power goes out, remain calm. Don’t panic at the loss of electronics. Believe it or not, there are fun things to do that don’t require electricity or wi-fi – who knew? When the power goes out, break out the old board games and have at it. You can dig out a book you’ve been meaning to read and use a flashlight. You can draw or doodle. You can do crafts. You can play charades. You’re not going to waste away from lack of computers and cell-phones. These devices will betray you and run out of battery sooner or later.

If you live in Atlanta, you know that power outages happen. When everything goes dark, don’t panic. Stay safe. Try to keep informed about what’s going on, don’t light any candles, and don’t bring the generator inside. Use the time to have fun and bond with your family. You’ll find a way to stay entertained.

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