What to Do When the Power Goes Out


It might not happen that often, but a power outage is pretty much an inevitability. At that point you realize how much you depend on electricity for communications, water, cold food, air conditioning, and light. Are you prepared? Knowing what to do during a power outage can be extremely helpful in case of an emergency.


Prepare yourself ahead of time. Purchase a flashlight for each member of your household and store it where it can be found in the dark. Extra batteries should be available or, if the flashlight is rechargeable, keep it fully charged. Use candles and matches with caution and have a fire extinguisher handy.

  • Install carbon monoxide/smoke detectors with battery backup.
  • Have a power outage plan for electronic medical devices and refrigerated medicines.
  • Check if your home phone works without power and how long its battery will last.
  • Store enough non-perishable food and water for each person.
  • Use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer; if it goes above 40°F, throw out food.

Figure Out Why the Power Is Out

First, check whether there is a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If not, then contact your neighbors to see if they have power. A power outage can be localized to homes served by a single transformer. Call the utility company to report the outage; it also helps to have a battery powered radio to hear news on any problems in your area.

Turn Off Appliances

Surges in electricity that arrive when power is restored can damage appliances. Consider your safety as well. If a stove burner or iron are left on, they can be serious hazards later. You also help the utility company restore service. With appliances off, there’s less initial demand on the power grid; after all, appliances use nearly double the power when starting up, potentially overloading the system. During an outage, unplug them one-by-one or shut the main circuit breaker.

Be Safe

During a power outage:

  • Do not run extension cords from a neighbor’s home with power to yours.
  • Use generators and grills outdoors, 20 feet away from windows.
  • Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Avoid running a car in an enclosed garage, to prevent carbon monoxide exposure.
  • If it’s too hot or cold, go to a designated community center until power is restored.

Also, dress in clothing that’s appropriate for the type of weather outside. You won’t have heating or cooling during a power outage. Make sure you and every household member drink enough water to avoid dehydration. And check to see how everyone is doing; if there is a medical emergency, call 911 for help.

After power is restored, throw out food if your refrigerator temperature has been at 40°F for two hours or longer. Get rid of any food that has an unusual color, texture, or odor. If the outage has lasted more than a day, refrigerated drugs should be discarded, depending on what the label says. Consult a physician or pharmacist on using medicines required for a household member’s survival.

Contact Express Electrical Services

We provide electrical services to customers in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, and all of Southern California. Our Los Angeles electricians are trained to keep your home and family safe in case of a power outage. During an emergency, we can reach your home in 60-90 minutes and are available 24/7 to determine the cause of the problem, safely install generators, and quickly address any immediate issues. Call now or request service using our online form.

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