Get Healthy Carson City: Preparing for when the lights go out

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A power outage is when the electrical power goes out suddenly. Winter weather, floods, earthquakes, windstorms and manmade hazards such as vehicle accidents can cause these outages. Longterm power outages could impact the whole community and economy while putting our lives on hold. They can cause a disruption in communications, stores closing, food spoiling, and they may prevent the use of medical devices. Being prepared for when the power goes out is important for the safety of you and your family. Do you know what to do when the power goes out?

During a power outage:

Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours and a full freezer can keep the temperature for about two days if left closed. If you need to, use coolers with ice to store food. Make sure to monitor temperatures with a thermometer designed for your refrigerator or freezer.

If you use a generator, camp stove or charcoal grill, only use them outdoors and at least 20 feet away from any windows.

Don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment and electronics. Power might have quick “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage when the power comes back on.

Have backup plans for medicines that need a refrigerator or when using a medical device that requires power.

Check on your neighbors. Older adults and younger children are vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Make sure they have a heat source and emergency supplies.

If the cold is extreme and it’s safe, go to a community location with power.

Take the following steps to prepare for a power outage:

Make a list of things you need that must have electricity. If these items can use batteries instead of electricity during a power outage, be sure to have the right batteries in your home.

Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged. Have a portable solar power charger or a backup battery charged for your phone during a power outage.

Have an emergency preparedness kit ready. Include flashlights with extra batteries, a three-day supply of food that won’t go bad, blankets and three gallons of water for each member of your household (including your pets) per day.

If using electric medical devices or taking refrigerated medicine, talk to your doctor about a power outage plan. Ask how long medication can be stored at a higher temperature and ask for help with how to protect your medicines that are important for life.

Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer to monitor temperatures when the power returns. If the temperature goes above 40 degrees during the outage, throw the food out.

Sign up for local emergency alerts and weather alerts. If a storm is coming, prepare to lose power.

Carson City Health and Human Services urges everyone to take an active role to be prepared for a disaster or emergency. For information on preparing for a power outage, visit For additional resources and information about Department programs and services, check out our website at or “Like” us on Facebook at, call us at 775-887-2190 or visit us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.


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