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Be prepared if a power outage occurs

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- With winter in full swing, it’s important to understand and be prepared for power outages.

Power outages can occur for many reasons, including thunder, lightning, snow and ice storms; or strong winds. Outages due to severe weather could be as short as a light flicker or long as a few days.

An Arctic blast across the nation last February shut down power to millions of people in Texas. It resulted in 246 deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

It is vital to understand the dangers that could be involved and ways to keep you and your family more prepared in case an outage occurs in your home.

Every household should have an emergency-preparedness kit with the basics, according to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness: nonperishable food, drinking water, a battery-operated radio, extra clothes, flashlight with spare batteries, sleeping bag and blankets, sanitation items and medications. This is not an all-inclusive list; kits should be tailored to each household.

To prepare your home for a power outage, there are a few important issues to look at. First, make sure you have battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup, and perform a test of the batteries monthly. You should also purchase a high-quality surge protector for your computer and other important electrical equipment.

Finally, if your home has an electric garage-door opener, knowing how to open the door manually is a key safety measure.

Also, never use a generator or propane heater inside homes, garages, crawl-spaces, sheds or any enclosed areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

If you feel it’s necessary to install a generator, be sure to consult with and seek expert assistance from a licensed professional.

For more information about power outages, or a thorough list of what you should have in an emergency-preparedness kit, visit the Ohio Department of Public Safety website at www.publicsafety.ohio.gov.