Power outages, especially outages that last for extended periods of time, affect people’s daily lives in ways much bigger than simply necessitating flashlights and battery-operated clocks. Outages can leave families in dangerously cold temperatures, and they can force families to find new ways to preserve food.
Planning ahead and appropriate decision-making during and after power outages is necessary to protect yourself from their effects.
- Extra blankets or firewood
- Extra batteries
- Plenty of drinking water
- Battery-operated radio
- Cell phone or corded telephone
When the storm hits
No matter how many preparations you take, you’ll still have to take some more precautions once the power actually goes out. National Grid Rhode Island suggests the following:
- Disconnect: Unplug “sensitive appliances.” These include computer, televisions and microwaves.
- Protect the food: Keep refrigerator and freezer doors shut. Food will stay fresh for six-nine hours in an unpowered refrigerator without spoiling. Frozen foods will keep for around 24 hours.
- Keep warm: Burn only wood or newspapers in your fireplace or woodstove
Power outages of more than two hours may be hazardous to food. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) recommends that all food retailers develop a plan to obtain alternative energy sources or emergency supplies before the need arrives.
RIDOH says hot food needs to be kept above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cold food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as possible. To do this, health officials are offering the following tips:
- Close the fridge: Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Consolidate: Group packages of cold food together to reduce heat gain.
- Cover: Cover open refrigerated and frozen food cases, especially vertical displays.
- Caution: The use of dry ice for cooling foods may result in an unsafe build-up of carbon dioxide.