As Sandy stubbornly churns up the East Coast today, utility companies expect record outages. Amica Insurance is sharing some tips to help you be prepared in the event of a power outage in your area.
“Hurricanes and other severe storms often result in widespread power outages,” said Michael Gillerlane, a senior assistant vice president with Amica Insurance. “Depending on the severity of the storm, you could be without power for several hours – or several days. So it’s best to prepare as much as possible in advance.”
Make sure to have non-perishable food, water and first aid supplies on hand, Gillerlane said. Here are some other tips from the American Red Cross and other emergency agencies:
• Make sure you have working flashlights and extra batteries.
• Charge cell phones and other electronic devices.
• Stock up on ice and coolers, which can be used to help keep refrigerated foods cold.
• If your water supply could be affected by a power outage, fill your bathtub in advance. You can use this to fill pails of water that can be used to flush toilets.
• Make sure you have extra cash on hand. ATMs may not work during an extended power outage.
If the power goes out:
• Contact your local utility company, especially if power lines are down in your area. Do not go near downed power lines.
• Turn off and unplug major appliances including televisions, computers, stereos and other electronics to avoid damage from a power surge when the power comes back on.
• Leave on one light so you’ll know when the power is back on.
• Do not use a generator unless it has been properly installed and is properly ventilated, to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Avoid unnecessary travel. Traffic lights could be out and power lines could be down, making driving dangerous.
If the power is expected to be out for an extended period of time, consider staying with family members or friends or getting a hotel room, Gillerlane suggested. Many communities also offer emergency shelters.
"Extended power outages can be incredibly stressful,” Gillerlane said. “But it’s important to make sure you and your family stay safe.”