How to Prepare for a Power Outage: Emergency Kit, Evacuation Plan, Tips for Staying Safe During Electricity Shutdown

A planned power shutdown can be extremely disruptive and sometimes dangerous—moreso when it is unexpected. It's crucial to be prepared for a power outage ahead of time to ensure you and your family stay safe and well.

Check out our guide below using advice from the government and charities to prepare yourself for a power shutdown.

How to prepare for a power outage?

According to government advice, this is what you should do to prepare before a power outage.

  • Put together an emergency kit (see below).
  • Put together a household evacuation plan (see below).
  • Sign up for alerts and weather warnings.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery back-up throughout the house.
  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer for when the power returns (throw out food if it is over 40 degrees).
  • Fill up your gas tank and fill up extra containers with gas.
  • Contact your doctor for advice on storing medicine or using power-dependent devices.
  • Learn how to manually open your garage door.
  • Update your contact informationwith your power supplier.
  • Find out if your landline will work during an outage.
power lines
Power lines in California, where planned power outages occur to reduce the risk of wildfires. David McNew/Getty

What to put in an emergency kit for a power outage?

Based on the Red Cross Survival Kit and NBC news, this is what should be in your emergency kit for a power outage. Consider the needs of family members such as medication, baby supplies, pet supplies and so on. Keep everything in one easy-to-access location.

  • Water: one gallon per person per day for two weeks.
  • Food: non-perishable and easy to prepare items.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and medications.
  • Personal hygiene products.
  • Copies of important documents such as identification, insurance policies, etc.
  • Power packs/portable cell phone chargers.
  • Emergency contact information.
  • Extra cash.
  • Multi-purpose tool.
  • Emergency blanket.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, make sure you have access to NOAA weather alerts.
  • Maps of the area.
  • Various sources of light such as flashlights and candles.
  • Battery fans.
  • Books, board games, puzzles, etc.
  • An emergency kit for your pet.

Tips for staying safe during a power outage

Based on government advice and the Red Cross, this is what you should do to stay safe during a power outage.

  • Keep refrigerators and fridges closed.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronic devices.
  • Plan to keep refrigerated medications elsewhere.
  • Do not use gas stoves.
  • Check on your neighbors.
  • Use generators outdoors and away from windows.
  • Use coolers and ice to keep food cool.

Household evacuation plan for a power outage

According to the Red Cross, this is how to develop a household evacuation plan:

  • The Red Cross recommends developing and practicing an evacuation route and destination twice a year. If you have pets, research pet-friendly accommodation ahead of time.
  • Take extra care in planning an evacuation route when considering children, senior citizens, family members with disabilities, and pets.
  • Decide on two places to meet up: one outside your home and one outside your neighborhood.
  • Have an emergency contact who lives outside of your area.
  • Make sure schools and daycares have your emergency contact details.
  • Come up with alternative plans considering family members who aren't always at home, such as college students, for example.

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