Surviving a Power Outage

By Sam DiGiovanna


This is the time of year when it is important to prepare for power outages, which can occur from a simple malfunction in the system, human error or a traffic accident involving a power pole.

A heat wave may prompt utility companies to ease pressure on their grid by issuing “rolling brown outs.” And the soon-to-begin summer monsoon season’s electrical storms can also cause power disruptions.  Most importantly as fall approaches, the Santa Ana winds intensify the threat of fire, but also power outages from downed power lines.

A power outage can be annoying and inconvenient, but it won’t be a horrible experience if you’re prepared for the worst.

Here are some tips to survive a power outage at your house:

1. Plan ahead. Every home should have an “emergency kit” prepared for power outages, bad weather and other emergencies. The kit should include: First aid supplies, bottled water and packaged/canned food, different sizes of flashlights with extra batteries, an extra fully-charged cell phone battery
and candles and matches.

2. Take care of each other. If you have small children in the house, they will probably be afraid. Keep them busy by playing games or reading books with them. Offer them the bottled water and snacks if they complain about being hungry or thirsty.

3. Be resourceful. Remember that gas stoves, grills and heaters will still work once the power goes out. You can use a battery-powered radio to stay updated with the news.

4. Find out if there is a shelter in your town. In previous disasters, a shelter was set up at the high school gym to provide people with heat and food.

5. Stay warm (or cool). If the outage happens in the winter, you’ll need to have blankets ready as your house will get significantly colder. Sleeping bags work especially well, as they insulate body heat. If it’s summertime, your house will inevitably get warmer without fans or air conditioner. Keep cool by placing hand towels under cold water and resting them on the back of your neck.

6. Be ready for the power to come back. Unplug appliances to avoid a blow out when the power comes back on. Protect laptops, televisions and other expensive appliances by using power strips equipped with surge protectors.

Following these easy tips will make a huge difference. You’ll be thankful that you prepared in advance!


Sam DiGiovanna, of Aliso Viejo, is the training chief of Glendale’s Verdugo Fire Academy. He previously worked in Monrovia.

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