Red Cross release power outage preparedness tips

Logan Odneal, Reporter

The Red Cross has given emergency preparedness advice for the rotating blackouts plaguing the county.
To be prepared for an extended blackout Red Cross recommends everyone assemble an emergency preparedness kit, create an evacuation plan, stay informed on the community response, and download an emergency phone app.
Red Cross offers an emergency app, however ICE, FEMA various other groups have also made emergency apps.
To keep food from spoiling during a blackout Red Cross also recommends owning at least one ice cooler, enough ice to keep the cooler and refrigerator cold, and a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of food.
Nicole Maul, Regional Communications Manager for Red Cross, said in regards to food safety “It’s one of the most common things people could face in a power outage; however, there can be other factors that need to be accounted for due to a power outage. If there are any downed power lines, stay away from them and report them to your utility company. Or if you are using a generator, to make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm installed on every level of your home.”
To keep food safe, Red Cross recommends to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors shut closed as long as possible, an unopened refrigerator should stay cold for about four hours, while a full freezer should stay cold for forty-eight hours. Perishable food should be kept in a cool but dry spot and kept covered. Perishable foods should be eaten before nonperishable or canned goods.
If the blackout is going to last longer than a day, prepare a cooler with ice for freezer food.
Maul also said “It’s also important to make sure your food stays at a safe temperature. Anything that has been exposed to temperature over 40F for two or more hours or develops a weird smell, color, or texture should be thrown out.”
During a power outage, it is advised to use flashlights instead of candles because candles carry an additional fire risk. Also, try not to travel by car because traffic lights will also be out causing excess traffic.
If the household is lucky enough to have a generator allowing them to use electricity while otherwise unavailable, they should also install carbon monoxide alarms in the house. The engine fumes from the generator can lead to a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide.
Unnecessary electrical equipment especially a computer or phone should be unplugged because once the power comes back on surges can damage your appliances.
For a power outage lasting less than two hours, don’t be concerned about food spoiling, but the electric surge would still be damaging if it hit your electronic devices.
When asked what the most important thing to buy for an emergency kit Maul said “It would be a flashlight and extra batteries for the flashlight. You can find many supplies you need for an emergency kit from places like the Dollar Tree. You can also build up your kit by buying 1-2 items a week or so and include that in your budget.”