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Before a blackout – getting ready ahead of time

Posted at: 05/11/2012 6:54 AM

The biggest blackout in U.S. history occurred on August 14, 2003, leaving roughly 50 million people without power. Blackouts can happen anywhere, and to anyone, so being prepared is important.

To prepare for a blackout you should do the following:
• To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
• Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts.
• Fill plastic containers with water and place them in the refrigerator and freezer if there's room. Leave about an inch of space inside each one, because water expands as it freezes. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a temporary power outage, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.
• Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
• Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
• Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
• Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.