Emergency Preparedness

"Lights Out" Kit
  • Flashlights with batteries (one for every family member)
  • Battery-operated radio and clock
  • Extra batteries
  • Containers of water or bottled water
  • Canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated food, powdered milk, baby supplies for infants
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Sterno or similar fuel (NEVER burn charcoal indoors)
  • List of important phone numbers
  • First-aid kit
  • Cash
  • Keep your car's gas tank full
  • Know how to manually operate an electric garage door
  • Unplug sensitive electronic equipment
  • Turn off major appliances or unplug if there isn't an OFF position
Basement FloodingIf you anticipate basement flooding during a storm, turn off your water heater, furnace and non-submersible sump pump, and your electric system before water can reach them. ELECTRICITY AND WATER CREATE A DANGEROUS MIX, so don't go into your basement or attempt to turn off the electricity in your basement if it's already flooded.
Some volunteer fire departments may pump out flooded basements.
Be sure to have all electrical equipment including washing machines, dryers and spare refrigerators checked by an electrician before restarting.
Check List - At the Threat of a Major Storm
  • Check your "Lights Out" kit to be sure it's well stocked and ready.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings.
  • We recommend unplugging the air-conditioner, ceiling fan, dryer, electric stove, freezer, furnace, refrigerator, washer and water pump if there isn't an OFF position.
  • If you have a well and water pump, fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. (Safety--WARNING keep small children and pets away from full bath tubs, keep bathroom doors closed!) Take steps to protect your major or electronically sensitive appliances prior to a major storm (unplug all sensitive electronic equipment such as TV, computer, stereo, VCR, cordless telephone base, answering machine, garage door opener, and microwave.
  • Fill your car's gas tank.
Check List - If You Lose Power
  • Contact the power company immediately to report the outage.
  • Take steps to prevent food spoilage.
  • Stay indoors. If you must venture outside, stay away from downed and dangling lines. Treat all downed lines as if they are live and dangerous.
  • If you use a portable generator, follow important, life-saving instructions.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio on for safety tips and for restoration progress.
FoodDo not refreeze melted ice cream or yogurt, seafood, food that has thawed completely and been held above 40 degrees for two hours or longer, anything with custard fillings, or any foods with a questionable texture or odor. A general rule on food spoilage is, "If in doubt, throw it out."

If you have any questions about the safety of defrosted foods, you can call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's toll-free "Meat and Poultry Line" at 1-800-535-4555 weekdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Garage Doors (Electric)
Doors of this type may be opened by disengaging the drive mechanism. Methods used to do this vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Please consult your operating instructions supplied by the manufacturer. They will tell you how to disengage the drive mechanism so that you can open the door manually. If you do not have a manufacturer's instruction book, call the company that installed the doors.
Generator InstallationHave a qualified, licensed electrician install your generator. The generator must be connected to your home's wiring through a special transfer switch to ensure that the house wires are isolated from the utility wires so that power lines cannot be energized by your generator.

If a portable generator is improperly connected to your house's electrical system, the electricity it generates not only enters the home's wiring but could be back feeding into the power lines, creating a life-threatening hazard for repair crews or others nearby.
Keeping Your Pipes from Freezing
Shut off the valve that allows water to come into your home. Then, open any drain valves and all faucets and let them run until the pipes are empty (it's helpful to identify these valves in advance). Next, flush all toilets and pour denatured alcohol into toilets and sinks to prevent water in the traps from freezing. Do NOT use automotive antifreeze in case there's trouble with your water system; you don't want the antifreeze to contaminate your drinking water. You may, however, use nontoxic antifreeze that's made for winterizing motor homes.

Turn off the furnace emergency switch. Then drain your furnace boiler by opening the valve at the bottom (this looks like a garden faucet). Also, open all radiator vents. Be sure the boiler is filled with water again before it is restarted.

The tank of your electric water heater will keep water warm for the first few days after an outage. However, it can freeze after prolonged cold and should be drained after three days of below freezing temperatures.
Medical ProblemsIf you have a special medical problem, call your local INFOLINE, the American Red Cross, or your local town or civil defense officials for information about shelters. If you're ill or frail, consider staying with relatives at a town shelter if the outage will be lengthy.

If a member of your household relies on electric equipment for a life-threatening medical condition, we suggest a back-up plan to provide the patient with alternative facility care in case of a prolonged outage.

If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage. You may want to keep a small cooler handy.
PetsSmaller pets such as fish, birds and reptiles may be endangered. Since many of these animals are fragile, we recommend that you do not wait until an outage strikes to devise alternate arrangements.

Check with a reputable pet store to determine what steps you can take before and during an outage to ensure your pet's survival.
Portable GeneratorsIf you feel that you cannot tolerate an extended power outage, we recommend that you purchase a portable generator. Select a generator correctly sized to meet your needs. Ask your dealer for guidelines. There are important, life saving issues involved in selecting, purchasing, installing and maintaining a portable generator. Also, you may need a town permit or an official inspection.

Please be aware that improper portable generator installation and use COULD KILL AN UNSUSPECTING LINE WORKER. It could also cause a house fire. Do not use a generator until you can use it safely.

GENERATOR EXHAUST IS DEADLY. We recommend that the unit not be located indoors. Never refuel the generator while it's operating.

Protecting Sensitive Electronic EquipmentYou may want to use surge suppressers to protect your sensitive electrical equipment from voltage irregularities, disturbances that can jumble your computer data. VOLTAGE IRREGULARITIES can occur when the power line between your house and the pole is damaged, or there's damage to your SERVICE ENTRANCE CABLE (the wire running down the side of your house to the electric meter).

Whole house SURGE SUPPRESSOR KITS can help protect your home from power surges. Small surge suppressers can be installed in outlets into which electronic equipment is plugged. Power surge suppressors are available in most department stores. Before you buy one, be sure it bears the Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) 1449 label for safety.
Refrigerator and FreezerBefore a storm -- Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them after). Throw a blanket over both for extra insulation to keep the cold in. It's a good idea to place plastic containers filled with water in your freezer - ice helps maintain the cold during outages.

During a storm -- DON'T OPEN THE REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER DOOR. If the unit's door is unopened, food stays in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours and in a freezer up to 48 hours if it's well packed; 24 hours if it's half packed. You might load up a cooler with ice and store food you'll need during the first day or so after an outage. See
Service Wire Damage
  • Shut off your home's main switch or put the main circuit breaker in the OFF position if you are without power and:
  • A tree has fallen on the service wire leading from the pole to your house.
  • Service wire is down or pulled away from the house.
  • If your lights are dim or unusually bright it signals voltage trouble which could damage sensitive electronic equipment or motor driven appliances.
  • You should shut off your home's main switch or put the main circuit breaker in the OFF position.