Plan & Prepare
Power Outages: What to do Before a Blackout Happens
(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes)
Power Outages: Read This First!
As with other types of emergency:
- Create an Emergency
Supply Kit with the items you will need to remain
self-sufficient for up to three days.
- Create a Family
Disaster Plan with plans on sheltering in place
and evacuation, and an out-of-state family contact.
If You Are Electric Dependent
If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system or
other power-dependent equipment:
- Call your Utility Company, Local Police and Local or
County Office of Emergency
Management NOW, to make sure they will keep a record
of the needs you will have during a blackout.
- If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, keep an
extra battery. If available, store a lightweight
manual wheelchair for backup.
- If you are blind or have a visual disability, store a
talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with
It is always a good idea to keep your car's fuel tank half-full.
Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
If you use medication that requires refrigeration:
- During a blackout, most of these medicines can be kept
in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem.
If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
If you use a computer:
- Keep files and operating systems backed up regularly.
Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if
you use a laptop.
- Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers
and scanners when they are not being used. If the power
goes out, they will have already been safely shut down.
- Get a high quality surge protector for all your
- If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business,
consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptible power
supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment
dealer about available equipment and costs.
If you use an electric garage door opener:
- Find out where the manual release lever is located
and learn how to operate it. Your garage door may be heavy,
so get help to lift it.
- If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of
entering your home after work, be sure to keep a key
to your house with you in case the garage door will
If your telephone system requires electricity:
- If you use a cordless phone, answering machine or other
device that will not work without electricity, plan for
- Keep a standard telephone handset, cell phone,
radio or pager.