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What should I do during a power cut?

BY Jeff Bredenberg

8th Feb 2024 Home & Garden

2 min read

What should I do during a power cut?
Getting caught out by a power cut can be disorienting, but there are a few things you can do to make your home blackout-proof ahead of time

Find a light source

Don’t panic. Find a flashlight, preferably the one with fresh batteries you keep around for just such an occasion.
If you must use a candle or hurricane light, never leave it unattended. Take it with you as you move from room to room. Make sure a candle is well seated in a candlestick or other solid holder.

Turn off your appliances

Once you have an alternate light source, turn off all non-essential appliances that were on—TVs, computers, stereos, and air conditioners. When the power comes back on, it could damage them. Leave the furnace and fridge on. Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed.
neighbourhood experiencing power outage

Determine the extent of the outage

Take a look across the street and next door to see whether your neighbours’ homes are also out. If the power is off in just your house, call the power company.

Check your water supply

If you use city water, then you might still have flow. If you have a well, the pump won’t work when the power is out.
But there may be pressure in the system, so conserve water to conserve the pressure. You might just have enough pressure to keep the toilet flushing for a day or two.

Make use of your car

If you don’t have a battery-operated radio, you can always get the latest news on the extent and expected duration of a blackout from your car’s radio.
You can also use your car to plug in a mobile phone that has an exhausted battery. But don’t overdo using the car, especially if you are low on fuel. And, of course, don’t run the car in a closed garage.
woman using torch in dark kitchen during blackout

How to be prepared for a blackout

  • Fill extra space in your freezer with plastic jugs of water (leaving enough room for the ice to expand).
  • If the power goes out, this ice will extend the life of the food in the freezer. Put one or more jugs of ice in the fridge for the same effect.
  • Know where the manual door release is on your garage door.
  • Have an old-fashioned cord-connected telephone in the house, even if you store it in a drawer or closet. Cordless phones and answering-machine phones won’t work when the power goes out. For your mobile phone, get a cable that lets you use and charge the phone in your car.
  • During periods of increased likelihood of a power outage, always try to keep your car’s fuel tank as full as possible. When power goes out, service stations can’t pump petrol.
  • Consider getting a generator and having a supply of fuel for it on hand. But never operate one inside your house or in a basement. The fumes can be dangerous. Put it on a porch or in a carport.
Keep a blackout kit handy. Make sure everyone knows where it is. Include
  • a flashlight with extra batteries
  • a portable radio with extra batteries
  • potable water (at least 1 gallon [3.7 litres])
  • a small supply of food that doesn’t need preparation
This article is part of our archival collection and was originally published in 2005. While we strive to present historical content accurately, please note that circumstances and information may have changed since the article's original publication. Some individuals mentioned in the article may no longer be alive, and events or details may have evolved. We encourage readers to consider the context of the original publication and to verify any current information independently
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