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5 Electrical Tips for When the Power Goes Out

Power outages can wreak havoc on your home’s electrical system, appliances, and devices. Knowing what to do in the event of a power outage can help to protect your home and belongings, and in some cases, yourself.

1. Diagnose the Scope of the Issue

If one room has suddenly gone dark in your home, chances are you tripped a circuit or blew a fuse. Confirm this at the circuit breaker or fuse box. If your whole house is affected, check with the neighbors. Whether your home or your whole neighborhood has lost power, call up your power company and report the issue.

2. Unplug Major Devices

If possible, unplug all major devices such as televisions, refrigerators, microwaves, and computers. Bring a flashlight to ensure your safety. Unplugging these devices protects them from electrical overload when the power is restored, or from damage if there’s a nearby lightning strike.

3. Know the Safety Tips of an Electrical Storm

Sometimes, the electricity is knocked out by a bad storm. If this is the case, particularly if there’s active lightning, use extreme caution and follow these electrical hazard tips from the CDC:

  • Don’t plug in or unplug any devices while the storm is still occurring.
  • Avoid washing your hands, taking a shower, or any areas with water.
  • Never enter a flooded basement during a bad storm.
  • Do not do the dishes or laundry.
  • Avoid using land lines – in rare cases, corded landline phones can deliver a deadly electric shock in an electrical storm. Using cordless phones or cell phones is safe, as are wireless electronics.

4. Use Caution with All Generators and Heat Sources

If the power outage lasts long enough for you to use a portable generator, kerosene stove, or other sources of heat, never do so indoors. These units produce carbon monoxide, which is deadly inside the home and causes hundreds of deaths every year. In addition, never plug a generator directly into your home’s circuit, as this could deliver deadly shocks to utility workers, neighbors, or yourself.

5. When the Power Returns, Wait Several Minutes

Once the power is restored, wait a few minutes to start plugging all your appliances back in. This will help support the smooth restoration of power in your neighborhood and protect your appliances from surges as the power returns.

If there’s an electrical emergency or life-threatening incident during a power outage, always call 911. Use common sense in the event of an outage; never approach downed power lines, and exercise caution when restoring full power to your appliances and devices. If you suspect damage to your home’s wiring or electrical systems, call an electrician to perform an investigation.

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