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Prolonged Outages

Wearing coats in the house

Surviving a prolonged power outage

The diversity of the weather in the Midwest and the four seasons we experience can deliver a variety of widespread and localized major storms or other natural disasters. If such an event occurs, widespread damage and blocked roadways can delay repairs to our electric system. Here's how to stay safe and warm until the power comes back on.

Heating your home

NEVER try to heat a room using a gas stove, oven or fireplace. The same holds true for using charcoal or propane grills indoors.

Using a natural gas, propane or oil-fired appliance improperly can deplete oxygen from a room, causing asphyxiation, or produce carbon monoxide fumes. These deadly circumstances can occur suddenly, with few or no warning signs or symptoms.

A portable heater can come in handy when the power goes out - but it also poses significant safety hazards. Before using, check your local safety codes and read the manufacturer's directions carefully.

If you use a wood-burning fireplace, crack open a window on the opposite side of the room to allow for adequate air circulation.

Food safety

Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer door. Refrigerated food will stay cold up to six hours; frozen food will keep for about two days if the door to the freezer isn't opened.

If the outage will be longer, pack refrigerated items in a Styrofoam or insulated cooler surrounded by ice.

When the power comes back on, use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food - if it's less than 40 degrees, it's safe to keep. If frozen foods still have ice crystals, they can safely be refrozen.

The USDA has prepared an extensive food safety guide to help you decide what foods to keep and what foods to throw away.