Power Outages-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, January 14, 2013

Power Outages

Winter storms often bring down trees and power lines, and when that happens, we may find ourselves without electricity for an extended period of time.  Preparing in advance for such a situation is extremely important.

Every household should already have an emergency preparedness kit that will meet the needs of you and your family for three days. A list of recommended minimal supplies can be found on the EH&S web site  at http://www.cmu.edu/ehs/emergency-response/personal-plans/emergency-supplies.html.

Should anyone in your home use electrically powered life-support equipment, make sure you have an emergency battery backup system.   Your physician can assist you in selecting the right system for the type of equipment in use.

If the power does go out, pull the plug on your large motor-driven appliances.  Refrigerators, computers, and televisions could be damaged when the power comes back on due to electrical overload.

Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer doors as much as possible.  Food in the freezer can stay frozen for two to four days, and the temperature will stay cooler if you refrain from opening the doors.

If you plan to use alternative heating or cooking sources, use them with caution. Do not use camp stoves, charcoal-burning grills or propane/kerosene heaters indoors and don’t use your oven to heat the house. They all pose the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you use a portable generator, plug appliances into the generator. Connecting the generator directly to your home’s electrical system can send power up the line and kill a utility repairman working on the power lines.  A Fact Sheet on Generator Safety can be viewed at http://www.cmu.edu/ehs/fact-sheets/index.html.

From information furnished by the American Red Cross.

By: Jim Gindlesperger, jg57@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-3760