Home Safety 101: Keeping Your House and Family Safe During A Power Outage
There are many reasons why a power outage can happen to a certain area and most of them are unpredictable. It can be because of strong winds, a severe storm, or an accident. That said, you have to be prepared so that your family stays safe in case it does happen in your home. There are several simple steps that you can take to ensure your household’s safety. Here are some of them that you can start preparing for right now.
If you have a water purification system installed in your home, it might not work when there’s a power outage. To make sure that your family continues to drink safe water, it’s best to stock up on bottled water just in case. Water doesn’t expire, so there’s no worry about keeping several bottles or gallons of potable water in the stock.
Alternatively, you can also boil water or treat it during a power outage. Get in touch with your local health center for recommendations and tips on treating water. As a rule, never use contaminated water to prepare food, wash hands, brush your teeth, or even rinse dishes. The bacteria that live in this water could be accidentally ingested and harm you and your loved ones.
If the power outage is to last only a few hours, then you’ll be fine with whatever food you already have at home. But during the storm season, you have to be proactive and prepare for a possible outage that can last days. For example, if your freezer is half-full, it can still preserve your food safely for about a day. If it’s fully stocked, it can keep all the contents safe for up to 48 hours. Open fridge and freezer doors as rarely as you can to keep the heat from entering and to help keep the temperature inside constant.
Meanwhile, food that is stored in the fridge will not last as long as the ones in the freezer. To be safe, transfer foods like meat, eggs, milk, fish and the like into a cooler that has lots of ice to help preserve their viability for longer. If it’s the winter season, you can use the snow to preserve the food, but if it’s during the summer, you will need to head out to buy some ice.
- Heating and cooling systems
During the winter season, the threat to your family’s safety can be higher because they can succumb to hypothermia. Your heating and cooling systems will likely be electricity-driven and will be down for an indefinite period. To prevent this from happening, prepare extra clothes and accessories that your loved ones can use to layer and warm up.
In the summer seasons, you could also be exposed to extreme heat and can suffer from heat stroke, exhaustion, and fainting. To avoid this, ensure that you are well stocked with water to keep yourselves hydrated. Open doors and windows to boost ventilation and invite fresh air in. Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee during this time as both are diuretics and can get rid of the water in your body extra fast.
If you suspect hypothermia or heatstroke, you should seek medical help immediately. Hypothermia means a body temperature that’s lower than 35C (95F), while heatstroke means a body temp of 106F and higher. Both can either lead to permanent disability or death so don’t take these for granted.
- Risk for gas poisoning
During the colder seasons and the power is down, you might be tempted to use unsafe heating methods to warm yourselves up, like setting up a small fire. While this will definitely bring warmth into your home, it also presents a fire hazard, not to mention carbon monoxide poisoning. Building a fire may be necessary and that’s understandable. Just make sure you know the risks and shield your family against gas leaks in the home. Do not bring propane and charcoal heat sources inside the home.
If you are using a generator, make sure you have installed gas alarms that have battery back-ups in key areas on every floor of your house. This will help alert you if poisonous gas is starting to accummulate so you and your family can evacuate quickly.
- Electric shock
When the power finally returns, those who are working to restore it in your home are exposed to possible shock from the sudden surge of electricity. Thus, it is important to use the proper gear and ensure that the conditions are safe to prevent electrocution. If this does happen, immediately call emergency services for help. You should also always have an emergency kit ready in case of an outage. This kit should include flashlights, batteries, medicine, water, and first aid supplies. It should also have some dried or canned food.
Protecting Your Household
If the power goes out, see if it’s just your house or it the entire block is affected. It could just be you and there might a tripped circuit or a blown fuse in your breaker box. If this is the case, call a utility professional immediately. Don’t try to fix it yourself unless you’re a licensed electrician and you have all the safety devices on hand. Then break out your battery-powered radio to listen for updates, in case the phone lines are down and you can’t call your local electric provider right away.
When you need to stay indoors during a power outage, your safest bet for lighting are flash lights and battery-powered devices — never candles. If you have no other choice, set the candles inside low and wide cans and position them away from curtains and other flammable items. Make doubly sure the kids and pets cannot reach them, too.
Also, immediately unplug all electrical equipment, particularly the sensitive electronics, so they don’t suffer from short circuit in the event of a spike when the power does return. In the event of an emergency, it’s always the smartest to take a proactive approach and be prepared. While you might not think your home will be affected by a calamity, you never know when a power outage could happen in your community so it’s best to be ready.
More importantly, every person in your household should know how to get out immediately and be familiar with all exits. Plan and practice your escape before something does happen.