With Hurricane Lee expected to turn, the tropics continue to be very active. So, as part of your checklist throughout the hurricane season – from your fridge to your phone — you need to be prepared for a prolonged power outage.
Aileen Carpio has experienced power outages before, but now that she is a new parent, it concerned her when the lights went out.
“I had just given birth and I was breastfeeding. I had my whole freezer full of breastmilk and so I panicked,” she said.
She was able to save her milk bank by not opening her freezer, which Consumer Reports expert Paul Hope says is good advice for a shorter outage.
But if you lose electricity for days or even weeks, he has some advice to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible. It all starts with your cell phone.
“A cell phone is your lifeline because it’s what you’re going to use to contact friends, family, or emergency responders in the event of an emergency, so it’s imperative that you keep it fully charged,” Hope said.
He recommends you switch the phone to a power-saving setting, such as airplane or low power mode and use the phone only when necessary.
As a backup, write down important phone numbers and addresses you might need, such as a nearby hospital, a storm shelter, or other public places that might have power.
Consumer Reports food safety experts say your unpowered refrigerator can keep food at a safe temperature—below 40° F—for about 4 hours if you don’t open the door.
And a full freezer’s worth of food will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed. If you do lose food, check with your insurer. Many homeowners’ insurance policies will cover the replacement cost of spoiled food in the case of a power outage.
And a crucial reminder: Running a generator improperly can kill you in minutes because of the high concentration of carbon monoxide.
“When you’re using a generator the most important thing to do is never run it inside the house or in a garage. You want it as far from the house as possible, a minimum of 20 feet, and make sure that the exhaust is directed away from windows and doors,” Hope said.
And don’t forget you’ll want to have at least 10 gallons of fresh gasoline on hand. And always add a fuel stabilizer to your stored gas to help it last as long as possible.
Consumer Reports also recommends if the power does go out for an undetermined amount of time, you unplug electrical equipment like your computer and T-V because they can be damaged by a surge when the power comes back on.