Yes, of course you have a flashlight. But do you know where it is? Could you find it in the dark? Do you have extra batteries? Or a rechargeable (and fully charged) flashlight?
The dark can be scary for young children. Prepare them by playing a "lights-out" game to find the flashlight.
Keep candles and matches on hand. Remember, candles are romantic, but potentially dangerous. Have solid, stable holders for them, and be especially careful if there are children or pets around. Have a fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
If the lights go off, the first thing to do is determine whether it is really a power outage or a problem with your own breaker. Reach for your flashlight and check your main electric panel. If you have blown a fuse or tripped a breaker, one or more of the switches may be turned off. Simply turn it back on and power should be restored.
If it is not a fuse or a breaker, check to see whether that power is out for your neighbors, too. Power can be lost in a very localized area. For instance, houses that are served by the same pole-mounted power transformer will be dark, while houses next door are fully lit.
If it is an outage, call your utility company and report it. Sometimes it can be hard to get through because other customers are also reporting interruptions. Please be patient. It is likely they already know about the problem and are working to fix it.
Cordless phones or extension phones that require connection to an electric outlet will not work during power outages. Models that only need to be plugged into the phone jack will work.
A battery radio lets you keep up with the news from the outside world. Make sure you have extra batteries. You could also use your car radio in an emergency, but remember the dangers of running a vehicle in an enclosed garage.
There are three reasons to turn off any appliances you were using when the power went out:
There are two options for how to turn off your appliances, both with advantages and disadvantages:
If the outage is likely to be prolonged, and the weather is hot, prepare to stay cool as your house heats up:
While it may be tempting, do not run extension cords to the home of a neighbor who still has power. It is a fire hazard.
The choice to install a standby generator is yours. However, this equipment can be extremely dangerous if it is not connected properly and operated knowledgeably.
Residential consumers probably do not need a standby generator to cope with shorter outages. For a prolonged outage, you have the additional headache of storing enough fuel to operate it.