Natural disasters and other hazards can impact the energy industry’s ability to produce and distribute petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil. At the same time, the demand for fuel may spike due to evacuations, or because consumers are buying more fuel to power backup generators during electrical outages. All these factors may lead to fuel shortages, which will prompt local authorities and fuel suppliers to prioritize getting fuel to key assets such as emergency operations centers, hospitals, food supply dealers, water supply plants, and telecommunication networks. Homeowners should keep the following tips in mind:
- Be patient—You may see numerous closed gasoline stations or encounter long lines for fuel, but understand that fuel suppliers are doing everything they can to restore supplies as quickly as possible. If they expect a severe storm, they often take action to build up supplies ahead of time.
- Buy only what’s necessary for your short-term needs—Disasters and other hazards may make fuel temporarily less available, but they may also lessen your need to drive until your life begins to resume a regular schedule.
- Stay informed—Industry associations like the Automobile Association of America distribute information about gasoline and diesel fuel prices, as does GasBuddy.com. Stay tuned also to local media reports, and for information from State and local government sources. Learn more
- Home heating fuel assistance—If your common fuel oil provider can’t deliver adequate supplies, disaster relief and emergency response organizations may offer home heating assistance, including delivery of home heating oil and propane (or liquefied petroleum gas), for those who apply. Contact your State or local emergency management agency for assistance.
Disclaimer: Because every emergency is different, it is important for your safety that you follow the directives of your state and local emergency management authorities and local utilities. The information provided on DOE's website is intended for general informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any particular material or service. Before engaging in any activities that could impact utility services such as electricity or natural gas, contact your local utility to ensure that the activities are done safely.
For additional emergency-planning resources, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website, ready.gov. State and local emergency management authorities and local utilities may also provide helpful guidance.