Consumer Reports | Preparing for power outages

The past year has made one thing clear: severe weather events can strike just about anywhere at any time.

This means now is the time to make sure you’ll be ready.

We’re working for you to share some tips to help you survive a prolonged power outage.

Although Aileen Carpio is no stranger to the routine power outage, when she became a new parent, that’s when losing the power became much more concerning.

“I had just given birth and I was breastfeeding. I had my whole freezer full of breastmilk and so I panicked,” Carpio said.

Carpio was able to save her milk bank by not opening her freezer, good advice for a shorter outage.

But if you lose electricity for days or even weeks, Consumer Reports has some tips to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible – it all starts with your cell phone.

“A cell phone is your lifeline because it’s what you’re going to use to contact friends, family, or emergency responders in the event of an emergency, so it’s imperative that you keep it fully charged,” Paul Hope with CR said.

Switch the phone to a power-saving setting, such as airplane or low-power mode, and use the phone only when necessary.

As a backup, write down important phone numbers and addresses you might need, such as a nearby hospital, a storm shelter, or other public places that might have power.

Consumer Reports food safety experts say your unpowered refrigerator can keep food at a safe temperature — below 40° F — for about 4 hours if you don’t open the door.

And a full freezer’s worth of food will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours if the door remains closed.

If you do lose food, check with your insurer. Many homeowners’ insurance policies will cover the replacement cost of spoiled food in the case of a power outage.

And a crucial reminder – running a generator improperly can kill you in minutes because of the high concentration of carbon monoxide.

“When you’re using a generator the most important thing to do is never run it inside the house or in a garage. You want it as far from the house as possible, a minimum of 20 feet, and make sure that the exhaust is directed away from windows and doors,” Hope said.

As for Carpio, she’s considering a generator for future outages.

“With all of the power outages that we’ve been through, now that the winter is coming, we would definitely consider a generator.”


About the Authors

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

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