It’s happened to all of us. You’re sitting in your cozy living room with your family, watching a movie, playing a game or reading a book and, poof, out goes the power.
Chicago’s extreme weather means a power outage can happen anytime: in the heat of the summer when everybody has the air conditioner cranked up; in the middle of a brutal winter storm, when ice and snow can weigh on power lines; and during a thunderstorm, when lightning hits a transformer.
Being prepared is the key to making that blackout safer and easier for you and your family. Follow these simple steps before an outage, and then know what precautions to take after the power goes out (and, even, when it comes back on).
Prepare for an Outage
During an Outage
- Check with your neighbors. Is yours the only place without power? See if the lights are out in the neighborhood. If it’s just your home, check the circuit breakers. If it’s a power outage, report it to ComEd.
- Don’t play with fire. Cook County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management says you never use a gas stove for heat. And don’t use candles for light — use the flashlight from your supply kit.
- Stay cool. During a summer power outage, it can get pretty hot in your home without the use of air-conditioning or electric fans. The CDC recommends drinking plenty of fluids and limiting activity to avoid heat illness.
- Avoid carbon monoxide. If you have a grill, use it outside only, the CDC says. Don’t use it in the garage, even with the doors open, and make sure to move the grill away from your home — otherwise you risk carbon monoxide seeping indoors.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed. It will help keep the cold in. Food safety officials say if the power’s out for less than four hours, most of your refrigerated food should remain safe to eat.
When the power comes back on
- Check anything that needs to be reset. Clocks are the first thing that comes to mind, but make sure any alarms or smoke detectors that are hooked up to the power are still working
- Decide if the perishables are still safe to eat. Never taste food to determine whether it’s safe, foodsafety.gov says. The site offers a chart with details about assessing food stored in the fridge and freezer.
Once the power’s back on and everything is back to normal, don’t forget to replenish anything you used up from that basic supply kit.
Recommended by the Editors:
Get A Quote
Get A Quick, Personalized Insurance Quote Today.
A great rate is just a few clicks away.