top of page

Extended Power Outage

Power outages are more than an inconvenience.  It is not unusual for a major tropical cyclone to destroy electrical infrastructure for miles, leaving many residents without power for several days or weeks.  Whether the power failure is from a natural or man-made hazard, extended periods without power can impact the whole community and the local economy.  It is important to be prepared.

Graphic heading says Prepare Now in Blue circle.


  • Take an inventory now of the items you need that rely on electricity.

  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines.  Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.

  • Plan for power source alternatives (generators, power packs, solar chargers, car adapters) to meet your needs when the power goes out.  

  • Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member.  

  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems.  Monitor weather reports.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.

  • Determine whether your home phone will work during a power outage and how long battery backup will last.

  • Review your household supplies.  Have a stock of non-perishable food and drinking water on hand for all people and pets in the household; enough to last several days (one gallon of water per person/pet per day). 

  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored.

  • Consider freezing a small cup of water and placing a coin on the surface and keeping it in your freezer - if the power goes out while you are away, the water will melt and the coin will sink so you'll know it warmed up, even if the the power is back on when you return home

  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.

Graphic image says Survive During the Hazard in an Orange circle.


  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours.  A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.  Use coolers with ice if necessary.  Monitor temperatures with a thermometer.

  • Use food supplies that do not require refrigeration.

  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics.  Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.

  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Camp stoves and charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.  Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.

  • If using a generator, it should always be used outdoors, at least 20 feet away from windows, doors, and attached garages.

    • Keep the generator dry and protected from rain or flooding.  Touching a wet generator or devices connected to one can cause electrical shock.

    • Always connect the generator to appliances with heavy-duty extension cords.

    • Let the generator cool before refueling.  Fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.

  • Check on your neighbors.  Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.

  • Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.

Graphic heading says Be Safe After the Hazard in a Green circle.


  • When in doubt, throw it out!  Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise.  If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

Graphic illustrating the need for transfer switches with generators and safe locations for generator operation: outdoors in the open, away from windows, 20 feet from the house, with 3 to 4 feet of clear space all around.  Also use GFCI protection, do not overload or operate when wet, and only use the proper grounded electrical cords.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Graphic illustrating safe food storage and handling practices before, during, and after an extended power outage.  Use  hi-low thermometers, keep freezer at 0 degrees and refrigerator at 40; fill unused freezer space with frozen bottles of water or gel packs.  Afterward, if low temp was not maintained in refrigerator or freezer items defrosted, discard food items - When in doubt, throw it out do not taste to determine safety.  Hard cheeses, breads, uncut fruits and vegetables, and condiments are safe if held above 40 degrees more than 2 hours.
Image of fork and knife Icon listed above links to food safety and poison control  information and agencies

Food Safety & Poison Control

bottom of page