Food Safety Reminders During an Outage
Have Plenty of Food
Keep a 3- to 5-day supply of drinking water in plastic bottles. Plan on at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day.
Store a manual can opener with enough nonperishable foods for 3 to 5 days. Canned meats, tuna fish and peanut butter are good foods to store. Don’t forget pet foods!
Conserve water by using paper plates and plastic utensils.
Have a camp stove or grill for outdoor cooking.
During an Outage
First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be safe to eat. Use food from the freezer after consuming refrigerated food.
An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours.
A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door remains closed.
If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
Keep food in a dry, cool spot and cover it at all times.
After an Outage
Throw away any food (particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. If it has been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can quickly grow.
If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. If it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can refreeze it.
Stay In Touch
Have a portable, battery-powered radio and alarm clock.
Have one phone that will work even if power is interrupted. This means a landline phone that is NOT cordless, or a cell phone. IF you rely on a cell phone, be sure you have a way to keep your cell phone battery charged if your power is out for an extended time, like a car charger, or solar charger. Also consider keeping a cell phone "power bank" handy.
Plan where to meet and how to communicate with family members if separated.
Keep essential family member contact information near your phone, in your wallet, and in your glove compartment.
Keep Things Going
Keep plenty of gas in your car.
Keep extra batteries, matches, propane, charcoal and firewood.
Stay Happy, Healthy and Warm
Coordinate with neighbors for care of the elderly and disabled living alone.
Maintain a supply of prescriptions, nonprescription drugs, vitamins and special dietary foods.
Playing cards, books, drawing and writing supplies, and board games help pass the time. If you have a video camera and tapes, your family can make a storm documentary.
Keep sanitary and personal hygiene supplies replenished. (Pre-moistened cleansing towelettes are useful and help conserve water.)
Use plastic trash bags and ties for garbage.
Put first-aid kits in your home and car.
Make sure you have cold weather clothing, foul weather gear, blankets and sleeping bags.
Consider purchasing alternative UL-approved heating devices. For example, a fireplace insert or wood stove will keep the heat in your home instead of up the chimney.
Use flashlights and other battery-operated lighting instead of candles.
Keep fire extinguishers fully charged.
Fill your bathtub with water for bathroom use before the storm (if you have a well).
Click here to learn how to prepare for a power outage.
Power Line Safety
If you are in a car that has come in contact with a downed power line, stay in your vehicle.
If you are driving and come upon a downed power line:
Stay in your vehicle
Warn others to stay away
Contact emergency personnel or the electric utility.
Never drive over a downed line. A downed line causes other things around it to become potentially hazardous.
Remain calm, stay in the vehicle, and call for help. Ask someone to call the electric utility, and a lineman will be sent to disconnect the power. If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution is the tragic result. Wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.
Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area near your car to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there is fire or imminent risk of fire. Be sure that at no time you or anyone else touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. You should never simply step out of the vehicle. If you must leave your car, jump free keeping both feet together and either shuffle or hop to safety. A live wire touching the ground causes electricity to fan out in a pool and the action of running or striding allows one foot to move from one voltage zone to another. Your body then becomes the path for electricity, and electrocution is the tragic result.
Click here to watch a live line safety demo.
Device Charging Safety
Whether you need a replacement or just want an extra phone charger, it can be tempting to purchase the low-priced option rather than the higher-priced charger from the manufacturer. However, purchasing a bargain charger could have disastrous consequences. Most of the time, these products are unregulated and untested. Their components are often low quality and are not backed by a manufacturer’s warranty. Only purchase charging devices and electronics from trusted sources and be sure they have been tested or marked by a nationally recognized testing laboratory like Underwriters Laboratories. It’s also important to inspect your charging cords for damage. Any cord that carries electrical power becomes a fire hazard when it’s damaged and wires are exposed. As soon as you see damage to a cord, stop using it.
It’s safest to charge your devices on cool, well-ventilated surfaces away from flammable objects. A well-ventilated spot will help prevent your device from overheating. Devices tucked under a pillow, nestled on the carpet, or resting on a bed or couch don’t allow for this. And, always unplug charging cords when they’re not in use. Cords that are plugged in are constantly drawing power. If the cord isn’t plugged into a device, that power can be transferred to flammable objects, such as fabric, carpet, or wood, and cause it to ignite.
Once your phone is plugged into an outlet it becomes a potential electrical hazard. And, unlike a hairdryer or electric razor — devices meant to be used in a bathroom — phones, laptops, and wireless speakers are not equipped with a safety mechanism known as a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which shuts off power to the device when it gets wet.
In the U.S., building codes require you to use outlets equipped with a GFCI in bathrooms, kitchens, and other household spaces where an electronic device might come into contact with water. Regardless of the type of cord you’re using, if you drop your phone into the water you could be electrocuted.
Avoid relying on extension cords when charging devices. Extension cords are not meant for long-term use. If you need to plug in your phone in a more convenient area than is available, this may be an indicator you need more outlets.
Source: ESFI, finance.yahoo.com Visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website for more information on electrical safety.
Portable electric generators offer great benefits when outages affect your home. Below are guidelines for safely connecting and operating portable generators. Click here to learn how your generator could be putting you in danger.
Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring.
Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can ‘backfeed’ onto the power lines connected to your home. This backfeed can be powerful enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house. You could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment and your generator. The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch, or to install a Generlink device. The transfer switch transfers power from the utility power lines to the power coming from your generator.
GenerLink™ is a five-inch device that is installed behind your electric meter by your local utility or licensed electrical contractor. When you connect a portable generator to GenerLink™ and start it up, GenerLink™ automatically disconnects your house from the electric utility grid preventing the possibility of backfeed, which can damage equipment and harm utility personnel.
Because GenerLink™ is designed and rated to connect directly to a standard household electric service of 200 amps or less, all you have to do to operate a critical appliance is flip a breaker on in the household breaker panel once the generator is connected and operating. GenerLink™ eliminates the hassles of running multiple extension cords or hiring an electrician to install an expensive transfer switch and sub-panel that limits the number of appliances you can operate.
GenerLink™ is installed by your local electric utility in less than 30 minutes. There is no need for you to be home and there is no need to rewire the house. Contact Southern Indiana Power for more information, or visit the GenerLink website.
Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet.
Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize “dead” power lines and injure neighbors or utility workers. Connect individual appliances that have their outdoor-rated power cords directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator with the appropriate outdoor-rated power cord having a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.
Don’t overload the generator.
Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator. Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics. Prioritize your needs. A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment.
Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.
Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide. Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house. Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed, or carport.
Use the proper power cords.
Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load. Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage. Don’t use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding. Make sure the cords from the generator don’t present a tripping hazard. Don’t run cords under rugs where heat might build up or cord damage may go unnoticed.
Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.
Don’t cut corners when it comes to safety. Carefully read and observe all instructions in your portable electric generator’s owner manual. To prevent electrical shock, make sure your generator is properly grounded. Consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding procedures.
Do not store fuel indoors or try to refuel a generator while it’s running.
Gasoline (and other flammable liquids) should be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass safety containers. They should not be stored in a garage if a fuel-burning appliance is in the garage. The vapor from gasoline can travel invisibly along the ground and be ignited by pilot lights or electric arcs caused by turning on the lights. Avoid spilling fuel on hot components. Put out all flames or cigarettes when handling gasoline. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located near the generator. Never attempt to refuel a portable generator while it’s running.
Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.
Avoid getting burned.
Many generator parts are hot enough to burn you during operation. Keep children away from portable electric generators at all times.
Visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website for more information on electrical safety.
Winterize Your Home
The best time of the year to start winterizing your home is before the temperatures start to drop and snow is already on the ground, but if you’re reading this and haven’t already made those small changes to your home, consider this your nudge to get started!
Preparing your home for cold temperatures doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Understanding how to winterize your home to keep it running smoothly will not only keep you safe, but it will keep your energy bill lower too.
This winter, plan ahead for burst pipes, water and tree damage, and unexpected power outages. Knowing how to prepare for these common occurrences can be beneficial to you and the safety of your home.
If a pipe does burst in your home, avoid electrocution by calling Southern Indiana Power right away to turn off your electricity before going down in a basement or before touching any plugged-in appliances.
Here’s how you can protect your pipes this winter:
Turn off outdoor faucets and have sprinkler systems blown out by a professional
Drain outdoor hoses
Remove and drain window A/C units
Insulate pipes in exposed or unheated areas
Keep your thermostat above 55° F
On especially cold days, open cabinets to let warm air reach sink pipes
To avoid rooftop water damage from clogged gutters, clean your gutters after the last leaf of the season falls. This will keep ice and water from building up around the foundation of your home, which could possibly cause leaking on your roof. Before a storm hits, have a professional check the trees around your home. Dead or dying limbs on your trees will most likely fall during the first big storm, causing damage to not only your home but possibly to your neighbors’ homes as well.
When preparing for winter weather, remember to check on winter appliances that have been stored away. Look over appliances like snowblowers and generators to be sure the wiring isn’t cracked and that all other parts are in working order.
Source: ESFI, Consumer Safety. Visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website for more information on electrical safety.