People always say that knowledge is power. But if your area is experiencing a power outage, knowledge of what’s happening, proactive foresight, and preparation could literally give you power.
Typically, there’s no warning before your home or business experiences a power outage. You’re going about your day, and suddenly you’re left in the dark without being able to use electrical appliances and devices. In some cases, a blackout may be a minor inconvenience. In others, it may cause a dramatic halt to your plans or even put the health and safety of family members at risk.
Knowing how to respond is vital to take charge of the situation. Here’s how to find out about power outages in your area and, most importantly, what to do now in preparation before the lights go out.
How to Check For Power Outages in Your Area
When you experience a loss of electricity, it’s best to go straight to the source for information. That means contacting your electric service provider. We suggest locating and saving their number ahead of time in case you lose access to the internet.
If you have internet access, many service providers provide online interactive maps of service areas. In these maps, you can search for your home or business address and locate any information they’ve published about electricity service outages. This information often includes an estimated restoration time plus details about the cause of the outage.
Another proactive step you can take now is to sign up for service notifications through your utility company. This way, if there’s ever an outage or other problem that may affect your service, you’ll receive notifications via your choice of text, call, or email. Notifications for service disruptions can save you the headache and hassle of searching for updates in the dark. They may even give you a heads-up about potential outages ahead of time.
How Long Do Most Power Outages Last?
At the time, power outages often feel like they last a lifetime. In reality, power outages are typically short-lived. For example, in 2019, the average length of outage for the entire US was only 4.7 hours, with some states experiencing 8-10 hour outages and others only an hour or two.
You can anticipate the likelihood of more extended outages as they often accompany natural disasters like hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. Pay close attention to weather reports if a hurricane or other severe weather is approaching your area, so you can adequately prepare for being without power for longer.
How to Prepare for a Power Outage
Whether you anticipate a power outage coming your way or not, there are a few steps you can take and things to plan in case the outage occurs. Here’s what to consider when preparing for a blackout.
Safe Food Storage
Stocking up on nonperishable, ready-to-eat foods is key to preparing for the loss of electricity. Canned food is excellent, as are dry cereals, crackers, chips, and hardier fruit like apples. These foods can be eaten without cooking or heating and have a long shelf life.
However, knowing what to do with the food in your fridge is also helpful if an outage occurs. Generally, the food in your fridge or freezer is safe if the power is out for less than 4 hours. It should remain at a safe temperature as long as you keep the refrigerator door shut to trap in as much cold as possible.
If the blackout exceeds 4 hours, err on the side of caution and dispose of perishable foods—especially raw or frozen meat—to protect your family from harmful bacteria.
When in doubt, throw it out!
If you’re expecting an outage, stock up on ice. You can move some items to a cooler for additional cold storage and extend the life of refrigerated foods.
Access to Safe Drinking Water
Not all water connected to your home may be safe for drinking, especially in an emergency where other city services may also be affected. Fill bottles or pots with drinking water if you anticipate an outage, or stock up on sealed gallon jugs of water, which have a shelf life of up to 2 years.
Preparation for Medical Needs
No one knows your medical needs as well as you do. Therefore, there isn’t one cut-and-dry “how-to” guide to protect your health during an outage.
If someone in your family relies on an electricity-powered medical device, it is prudent to have access to backup power or extra batteries. If you have medication that needs to be temperature-controlled, know how long it can be without refrigeration before it goes bad.
The best way to prepare is to go through all the medication you and your family take and note any specific conditions for storage. Also, get refills if you know a natural disaster is heading your way. Large-scale natural disasters that cause city-wide outages can cut off access to essential medications and pharmacies. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Home Backup Power
Medical needs are one of the many reasons you may want to consider a backup power source for your home in case of an emergency. A secondary power source allows you to carry on in an outage without losing refrigeration or power to run medical devices like oxygen tanks or CPAP machines.
The best option here is a fume-free solar generator or portable power station. Gas generators can leak dangerous carbon monoxide into your home. Look instead for solutions like EcoFlow’s DELTA 2 Solar Generator, which is safe to use in almost any setting.
If you only need to power a few essential devices, consider a smaller (and less expensive) option like the RIVER 2 Portable Power Station. It charges quickly and has a lifespan of at least a decade, making it a worthwhile investment for backup home power.
If you live in an area that experiences frequent or long-term blackouts, you may want to consider a whole home backup solution or a robust off-grid option like EcoFlow’s Power Kits and Smart Home Ecosystem.
An emergency kit at home is crucial for various contingencies, including power outages. Your supplies may differ based on the needs of your family. At a minimum, emergency kits typically include battery-powered lanterns or flashlights, first aid and hygiene supplies, extra medications, and basic protection against heat or cold, like battery-powered fans or extra blankets.
Power outages are never convenient—and can be deadly.
With preparation and knowledge, you can minimize the consequences of a blackout and protect your family’s health and safety.
EcoFlow’s backup power solutions are one way to prepare your home and family for an outage.
Consider your household’s unique needs today to prepare for tomorrow’s emergency.