Under most circumstances, a power outage will last only a few hours and not put your family in serious danger. Keeping emergency supplies on hand will make the time pass more comfortably and allow you to respond or call for help in the event something more serious occurs.
Here are emergency supplies that a typical homeowner should stock:
- Flashlight and spare batteries. These are safer than candles. Camping-style lanterns can light a whole room and make it easier to read or play games to keep children entertained.
- A battery-powered radio. Emergency instructions will come from officials via Emergency Alert System broadcasts or newscasts. You will need to know what is going on and radio broadcasts will provide this information.
- A wired telephone plugged directly into the telephone jack in the wall. The telephone system generally works when the power is out because the telephone company has its own power system and battery back-ups. A portable or cordless phone requires an external power source and won't work if the power is out. Cell phones may be overwhelmed with large numbers of calls, restricting your ability to get through.
- Store several gallons of bottled water in a cool part of the house for drinking, cooking, or hand washing if necessary.
- Keep some stored food on hand which can be easily prepared. Most people shop once a week, by definition they will have at least a week's worth of food available. Families should choose the type of "emergency food" which suits their needs and taste. Be sure to have appropriate tools to prepare emergency food. Your electric can opener won't do much good if the power is out, so you'll need at least one manual opener.
In addition, everyone in the family should know how and when to call 911 for emergency assistance. Even young children can learn this. Another good idea is to have a contact out of state, such as family members or close friends. A long-distance point of contact is valuable if family members are scattered or are forced to go to a shelter.