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Power Outage Safety

Before the Power Goes Out: Preparing for a Power Outage

Make a plan & build your emergency kits

Make a plan: Learn how to make a plan before an emergency happens.  Create an emergency plan which includes the following and practice the plan. 

  • How you will get emergency alerts and warnings
  • What is your evacuation plan.
  • How you will reach family/friends.
  • Update your emergency kits.

Languages other than English: اللغة العربية (Arabic) | Español (Spanish) | Français (French) | Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole)日本語 (Japanese)조선말 / 한국어 (Korean) | Русский (Russian) | Tagalog (Tagalog) | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) | 简体中文 (Chinese Simplified)

Emergency kitBuild a home kit

Languages other than English: اللغة العربية (Arabic) | Español (Spanish) | Français (French) | Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole)日本語 (Japanese) | 조선말 / 한국어 (Korean) | Русский (Russian) | Tagalog (Tagalog) | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) | 简体中文 (Chinese Simplified)

Build a car kit

Languages other than English: اللغة العربية (Arabic) | Español (Spanish) | Français (French) | Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole) | 日本語 (Japanese) | 조선말 / 한국어 (Korean) | Русский (Russian) | Tagalog (Tagalog) | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) | 简体中文 (Chinese, Simplified)

Sign up for alert systems and apps

Download the free Ready Erie App to receive notifications, locate emergency shelters, view up-to-date evacuation maps, create a personalized emergency preparedness plan and more.

Sign up for the City of Buffalo BUFFALERT System to receive emergency alerts and severe weather warnings that could directly impact you and your family.

Sign up for alerts from your power supplier.  

Food and water supply

Have some food and drink available that doesn’t require electricity to heat or prepare. 

You might want to boil some water and keep it in a thermos to make hot drinks or fill a hot water bottle if it gets cold.

Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed to protect the contents. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), your fridge will keep food safe for up to 4 hours during a power outage if it is unopened. The FDA says a full freezer will hold a safe temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half full) if the door remains closed.

For more information, visit the FDA website about food and water safety during power outages and floods.

Keep flashlights and batteries handy

Make sure you keep some spare batteries. Don’t rely on the flashlight on your cell phone because this will drain the battery quicker.  Make sure everyone in your home knows where these are kept. 

It’s not advised to use candles or any other open flame to provide light, as these could pose a fire hazard.

Electrical appliances

Make sure your mobile phone and extra power banks are charged.  Also, make sure that important data is available in case the internet is down.  If you work from home, it’s a good idea to make sure you regularly save your work to make sure you don’t lose anything. If your computer has an auto-save function, make sure you enable this.

Make sure you regularly charge any medical equipment that you rely on.  Also make sure essential equipment has a battery back-up so that you can keep using it if the power goes out. Talk to your healthcare or medical equipment provider to make sure important equipment is regularly checked and maintained. 

Keep warm and safe

Have blankets and warm clothes ready to keep everyone in your household warm.  Have a first aid kit handy too, in case of an emergency.

Fill your car with gas

Keep your vehicle's gas tank at least half full in case service stations can’t pump fuel during a power failure.  

It’s also a good idea to know how to manually open your garage door if you have an electric one, so you can get the car out if needed. 

Plan how to decide to stay or go

Plan how and when you will evacuate safely if needed. Also, know how to report a power outage.  

During a Power Outage: When the Power Goes Out

Using electrical appliances during a power outage

Leave at least one light on in the house so that you know when your electricity comes back on.

Never use a gas stove top or oven to heat your home.

Switch off electrical appliances that should not be run while unattended (such as irons, hair styling tools, stoves, ovens, space heaters, etc.) so that they don’t come on without you realizing once the power is back.  It’s also a good idea to unplug other electrical devices such as TVs and computers to avoid damage to them in case of a surge when power returns.  Make sure that you have current surge protectors for household electronics. 

Genertor safetyGenerator safety and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

Generators and fuel should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and attached garages.

Generators can be helpful when the power goes out. It is important to know how use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and other hazards.

  • Install working carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill you, your family, and pets.
  • Keep the generator dry and protected from rain or flooding. Touching a wet generator or devices connected to one can cause electrical shock.
  • Always connect the generator to appliances with heavy-duty extension cords.
  • Let the generator cool before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

After a Power Outage: When the Power Comes Back On


When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

Visit the FDA website to find out how to determine the safety of your food after power is restored.


If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist immediately about a new supply and with any questions you have.  

Power Lines 

Keep away from power lines. Stay at least 35 feet away from fallen power lines and anything they are touching. Call 911 and let them know.

Avoid electrical shock in flood areas. Don’t go into flooded areas or use any electrical equipment or electronics that may have been submerged. Have a qualified electrical inspector check the electrical system.

More Information & Resources