Power Outage Safety

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome.  If a power outage is 2-hours or less, don't be concerned about losing your perishable foods.  For prolonged power outages, though, there are steps you can take to minimize loss and keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.

How to Report a Power Outage: 

  • Forest City Office:  800-521-0902 | 828-245-1621
  • Morganton Office:  800-228-9756 | 828-584-1410

How to Prepare in Advance:

Protecting your family:

  • To keep your food from spoiling during a power outage, keep on hand:
    • One or more coolers - inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work well
    • Ice - Surrounding your food with ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator will keep food colder for a longer period of time during a prolonged blackout.
    • A digital quick-response thermometer - With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food to ensure they are cold enough to use safely.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts
  • Have at least a half tank of gas in your car.
  • Get extra containers and fill them with gas.  If power is out for an extended period of time, gas supply may be limited and lines at service stations long.

Protecting your pets & animals:  Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit

Protecting your home:

  • Consider purchasing a generator to power critical equipment during a blackout.  Make sure it's rated for the power you think you'll need and that you know how to operate it safely.
  • If you have a generator, install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.  This will provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.

Refer to the Power Outage Checklist for additional tips!

During a Power Outage:

Staying Safe Indoors:

  • Use flashlights in the dark - not candles
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel.  Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
  • If you're using a generator, be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.

Food Safety:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.  An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4-hours.  A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48-hours (24-hours when it's half full) if the door remains closed.
  • First use perishable food from the refrigerator.  Perishables should have a temperature of 40-degrees Fahrenheit or below to be safe to eat.  Then use food from the freezer.
  • Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.

Electrical Equipment:

  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out.  When the power comes back on, surges and/or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you'll know when the power comes back on.

After a Power Outage:

Staying Safe after a Power Outage:

  • If electrical power lines are down, don't touch them.  Keep your family and pets away.  Report downed lines to your utility company.

Throw Out Unsafe Food:

  • Throw away any food (particularly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that has been exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees F for 2-hours or more or that has an unusual order, color or texture.  When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste food or rely on  appearance or odor to determine its safety.  Some foods may look and smell fine, but they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly.  Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • If you are not sure food is cold enough, use a thermometer to check it's temperature.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40 degrees F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.