Homeowners: Respond to Power Outages

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After a disaster, electric utilities and government officials will first work to restore power to critical infrastructure like power plants and transmission lines, water treatment facilities, and telecommunications networks, and also to hospitals, critical care facilities, and emergency response agencies. It may take several days or even weeks to restore power to individual homeowners, but here’s what you can do to help prepare and recover power more quickly:

  • Charge mobile devices—If you have power, charge your cell phones, laptops, and other mobile devices so they’ll have the maximum amount of battery power stored in the event of a power outage. These devices will help you communicate with your power company, and they’ll help you stay up to date on restoration efforts, weather forecasts, and other important information. Learn more
  • Prevent overloaded circuits—If your power goes out, switch off all the lights and appliances that had been on to prevent overloaded circuits when power is restored. If you expect a power outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary appliances.
  • Communicate with your power company—Report downed power lines and outages, and report whether your neighbors have also lost power. Have your utility account number available, if possible. Check for service restoration status updates using a computer or mobile device. Learn more
  • Stay clear of crews working—For safety reasons, crews have to stop what they’re doing when bystanders come too close to them. By staying clear and allowing crews to work, they can more quickly restore your power, and you’ll remain safe.
  • Safely use portable generators—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
  • Certify your electrical systems—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 can be safely energized. Learn more

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. 

Related Links

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA Publications
FEMA Disaster Assistance
Local Government Energy Assurance Planning (LEAP)
National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)
National Response Framework
State and Local Energy Assurance Planning
New Reports & Other Materials
Quick Links to Featured Reports

Comments or Questions?

Email us at EnergyReady@hq.doe.gov.