Power Outage Awareness
Power outages are a common occurrence during disasters, but are not limited to emergency events. Times of peak high energy demands, such as grueling hot summer months, can lead to rolling outages and black outs. Learn more below about the steps you can take to help conserve energy and stay safe when outages occur.
Power Outage Safety Tips
Even with conservation efforts, power outages are still possible during emergency events. Ready.gov recommends the following steps to prepare for a power outage:
- Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there's room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
- 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.
- Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
For households with individuals who have disabilities, functional, and/or access needs, also consider the following:
- Have an extra battery if you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, have a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.
- Have a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries if you are blind or have a visual disability.
- Consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set if you are deaf or have a hearing loss. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
- Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
During an outage, take the following precautions:
- Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a power outage or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics in use when the power went out.
- Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. View additional generator safety tips here.
- Listen to local radio and to a battery- or generator-powered television for updated information.
- Leave on one light so that you'll know when your power returns.
- Use the phone for emergencies only. Listen to a portable radio for the latest information.
- Do not call 9-1-1 for information—call only to report a life-threatening emergency. Use the phone for life-threatening emergencies only.
- Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
- Provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
- Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage.
Everyone can help prevent rolling outages from occurring during peak energy times by employing energy conservation measures. Conservation is also a great way to reduce the cost of your monthly energy bill. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) recommends the following energy conservation steps:
- Replace incandescent lights with LED light bulbs.
- Use ceiling and other types of fans to cool down the room during the summer.
- Keep all electrical devices and lights unplugged or turned off when not in use.
- Keep thermostats as high as possible in the summer and as low as possible in winter.
- Install energy-efficient coverings that keep your home well insulated in summer/winter.
- Use natural light from windows and turn off all unnecessary lights during the day.
- Replace single-pane windows with energy-efficient options.
- Seal windows and doors to prevent air from escaping.
- Keep water temperature setting around 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take shorter showers and, when possible, use warm water instead of hot.
- Caulk bathtubs and check for holes and leaks.
- Seal air leaks around light and plumbing fixtures, outlets, vents and windows.
- Use window coverings to block out the harsh sunlight and keep rooms cooler.
- Use power strips for small appliances and turn off when not using.
- Turn off entertainment systems, computers and home office equipment when not in use.
- Inspect washer and dryer coils and repair leaks.
- Avoid using hot water for washing; when possible, use cold or warm water.
- Wash only full loads of clothes and avoid using appliances during seasonal peak hours.
- Hand wash and air-dry clothes when possible.
- On very cold winter days, avoid using large appliances 6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m., especially during energy alerts.
- Keep oven doors closed and use overhead vents on hot summer days.
- Use microwave or non-heat-producing cooking appliances during summer peak hours.
- Hand wash and dry dishes when possible, do not run dishwasher from 3 to 7 p.m.
For more information on power outages visit: