How To Keep Cool When The Power Goes Out

By Shannon Randol, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

During a power outage tensions can run high, especially if you have children. What did we do before the invention of air-conditioning? I’m like a heating blanket no matter what the temperature is and I for one am happy I wasn’t around during those days.

Sudden loss of power can quickly become an annoyance, especially if the power is out for days. As soon as you are without, you spend every next moment begging for it to come back on.

While I was living in Florida a hurricane rolled through Jacksonville and knocked my family’s power out for three longggggggg days. You can only play so many board and card games before you start running out of ideas to entertain the kiddos.

Thankfully, on night two without power, the Barnes and Nobles down the street was still having its midnight release party for the new Harry Potter book. I was planning on going myself before the storm and was happy to get into a place with AC, yahoo for generators.

Lesson number one: Hang out at a place that has a generator (you can tell because it’ll be the only place with lights on in a massive power outage 😉 ) to get the kids out of the house and sweating less (but be careful if driving! We were able to walk to Barnes and Nobles!). And if your oldest is old enough, they can take them for you. Unfortunately I was and got to bring my brothers and sisters with me.

Prepare:
1. Have coolers at the ready. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work just as well.
2. Make sure you have ice!
3. A thermometer – You don’t want to waste food by throwing it all out, but you don’t want to eat food that’s too warm. A thermometer will ensure food safety.
4. Restock or make an emergency disaster kit.

During:
1. Keep fridge and freezer doors shut as long as possible. An unopened fridge door will keep food good for up to four hours. An unopened freezer will keep foods good for about 24-48 hours.
2. Eat perishable items first before moving onto nonperishable items.
3. Unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
4. Disconnect appliances.
5. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power returns.
6. Eliminate travel, traffic lights will be out as well.
7. If you have a generator, here are some safety tips.

After:
1. Report any down power lines and keep children and pets away from them!
2. Throw away any food that has been contaminated.
Keep in mind candles are romantic during a power outage, but more dangerous and susceptible to accidental fires. Flashlights and batteries will always be the safer option.

Dig out all the board games you own, teach a new card game, read a book and stay safe during power outages. I hope you never have to know heat without AC in the middle of the hottest and humid months of Florida!

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