Lost power due to severe weather? Here’s what to do and not do

Switch cellphone to ‘low power’ mode to conserve battery
Consumer Reports has some tips for when the power goes out.
Consumer Reports has some tips for when the power goes out.(Arizona's Family)
Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:15 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The past year has made one thing clear: severe weather events can strike just about anywhere at any time. That means now is the time to make sure you’ll be ready. Consumer Reports has some tips to help you survive a prolonged power outage. “A cellphone 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,” Consumer Reports home editor Paul Hope 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 four 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 that running a generator improperly can kill you in minutes because of the high concentration of carbon monoxide. Hope says that 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.

If there seems to be no end in sight to the power outage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends seeking out an alternate location with power and heating or cooling—assuming you’re able to safely drive on the roads. Take your go bag or medical go bag and any other supplies you might need.