Controlled power outages, like those that occurred in Texas in February 2021, can occur any time of the year—whenever extreme temperatures create demand that overloads the electrical grid. Here are a few tips from the Department of Energy on how you can prepare your home and office to safely navigate such a situation.
Keep a flashlight in each room of your house and in your office. Keep plenty of batteries on hand, too, or consider light sticks or a hand-cranked or shake-charging flashlight that doesn’t need batteries.
Have the emergency number for your electric cooperative handy in case you need to call.
Keep a cooler readily available to store medications that must remain cold. Keep ice packs ready for the cooler by storing them in your freezer, and if you don’t have a cooler, keep the refrigerator and freezer closed for as long as possible during a power outage to keep food from spoiling.
If you use electricity for your water, such as a well with an electric pump, have enough water available to last a couple of days. You should have at least a gallon of drinking water per person per day in your house for drinking and cooking. Nonpotable water uses, such as for flushing toilets, can use water from melted snow or rain barrels.
Have sustainably sourced disposable utensils and dinnerware on hand so you don’t need to use water to wash dishes.
Keep the pantry stocked with easy-to-open, nonperishable foods that don’t require cooking.
If you buy a backup generator, make sure it’s installed by a licensed electrician. Check with your local building codes authority to see if a permit is needed, and ensure the system has an automatic breaker that disconnects your house from the cooperative’s electricity lines when it’s running. This prevents electricity from leaking back into the grid and making it dangerous for utility workers. Conduct regular maintenance to make sure the backup generator is in good working order.
If you have an outdoor gas grill, keep the gas tank full, or if it’s an open-burning grill, make sure to have plenty of charcoal or wood on hand.
Keep a household first-aid kit and a disaster preparedness backpack.
Have a household disaster plan that you and your family can follow in the event of an extended power outage or other emergency.