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After a Power Outage

Be aware of your surroundings

  • To avoid a surge when the power is restored, turn off and/or unplug non-essential electrical equipment, computers, and other voltage-sensitive equipment or appliances.
  • Check appliances, especially stoves, to be sure that they weren’t left on and unattended when the power went out.
  • Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep others away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.

Check your food and water

Throw out unsafe food (also see the FDA's guides Refrigerated Food and Power Outages and Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out).

  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40°F (4°C) or higher for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, illness-causing bacteria can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40°F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
  • If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer. Throw out any foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40°F (4°C) for 2 hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to the touch.

Alternate sources of energy

When using alternate sources of energy for heating or cooking, beware of their primary hazards: carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Maintain carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from the fresh air location, and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

For more information on power outages, see: