The severe winds experienced during Hurricanes, Tropical Storms and Thunderstorms have the potential to cause power outages throughout the Commonwealth. These strong winds have the capability to topple utility poles and snap tree limbs causing them to fall on power lines and disrupt electrical service.
Tips for dealing with a possible power outage during warm weather:
Before an Outage
Check flashlights and portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries as part of your Emergency Kit . A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm.
- If a storm is coming that may bring power outages, fully charge your cell phone, laptop, and any other devices in advance of a power outage.
- Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
- If a storm is coming that may bring power outages and you have a water supply (such as a well-water pump system) that could be affected by a power outage, fill your bathtub and spare containers with water. Water in the bathtub should be used for sanitation purposes only, not as drinking water. Pouring a pail of water from the tub directly into the bowl can flush a toilet.
- Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-packed).
- If you have medication that requires refrigeration, check with your pharmacist for guidance on proper storage during an extended outage.
- If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage. Ensure you have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices.
- If you have life-support devices that depend on electricity, contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of an emergency. Some utility companies will put you on a "priority reconnection service" list. Talk to your equipment suppliers about your power options and also let the fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.
- Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
- Consider purchasing a generator to provide power during an outage. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and know how to use it safely before an outage.
- Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community if you need it. Register in advance with the local emergency management agency, the local fire department, other government agencies or non-profit groups. Tell them of your individual needs or those of a family member and find out what assistance, help or services can be provided.
During an Outage
- Do not call 9-1-1 to report your power outage or to ask for information, use 9-1-1 only for emergencies. Call your utility company to report the outage and get restoration information.
- Check in on friends, family, and neighbors, particularly those most susceptible to extreme temperatures and power outages such as seniors and those with access and functional needs.
- If the power is out, use flashlights or other battery-powered lights if possible, instead of candles. If you must use them, place candles in safe holders away from anything that could catch fire. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Don’t get overheated. If the power goes out when it’s hot outside, take these steps to stay cool: stay in the lowest level of your home where it will be coolest; put on light-weight, light-colored clothing; drink lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty; remember to give your pets and/or service animal fresh, cool water; and if you need it, see if your community has “cooling centers” or shelters open.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Always use outdoors, away from windows and doors. Carbon Monoxide fumes are odorless and can quickly accumulate indoors. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator directly into household wiring, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
- In order to protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, you should unplug all sensitive electronic equipment, including TVs, stereo, VCR, microwave oven, computer, cordless telephone, answering machine and garage door opener.
- Leave on one light so that you'll know when your power returns.
- If a traffic light is out, treat it as a four-way stop.
After an Outage
- Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or moved downed lines. Keep children and pets away from them.
- Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences. Always assume a downed line is a live line. Call your utility company to report any outage-related problem such as downed wires.
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
See our additional webpage if you are looking for tips for Power Outages During Cold Weather .