Homeowners: Responding to Power Outages

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After a disaster, electric utilities and government officials will first work to restore power to critical infrastructure, such as power plants and transmission lines; water treatment facilities; telecommunications networks; hospitals and critical care facilities; and emergency response agencies.

It may take several days or even weeks to restore power to individual homeowners.

We’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare for outages and recover power more quickly:

  • Charge mobile devices. Ensure that your cell phones, laptops, and other mobile devices are fully charged when a power outage is a possibility. You can use your mobile devices to contact your power company. Learn more about keeping mobile devices charged.
  • Stay Informed. Keep up-to-date on power restoration efforts, weather forecasts, and other important information on a computer or mobile device.  Learn more about keeping current on the latest updates.
  • Prevent overloaded circuits. If you lose power, switch off all lights and appliances, which will prevent overloaded circuits once power is restored. If you expect a power outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary appliances.
  • Communicate with your power company. Report outages, including your neighbors’, as well as downed power lines. Be sure to keep your utility account number available.
  • Stay clear of crews working. Repair crews must stop what they’re doing when bystanders come too close to them. If you stay clear and allow crews to work, they can more quickly restore your power and you’ll remain safe.
  • Use portable generators safely. Portable generators made for household use can provide temporary power to a small number of selected appliances or lights, but they can also be hazardous. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and take proper precautions. Learn more about safely using portable generators.
  • Ensure your electrical systems are safe. If your house sustains flood or wind damage to electric equipment, including outlets, meters, fuse or breaker boxes, lights, or other electrical fixtures, a licensed electrician must certify that your systems are safe to use. Learn more about hiring qualified contractors.

Disclaimer: Because every emergency is different and for your safety, follow the guidance from your state and local emergency management authorities and local utility companies. The information provided on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website is for general information and not an endorsement of any particular material or service. Before you engage in activities that could impact utility services, such as electricity or natural gas, contact your local utility company to ensure that your 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 utility companies may also provide helpful guidance.