In the Dark for Days: Would You Be Ready?

September is the time for preparedness.

Andrew Velasquez III is Regional Administrator for Region V of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

​A few hours without power after a storm is often no more than a nuisance – but would you, your family or business be ready if that outage stretched into days or even weeks?

  • How would you charge your phone to stay in touch with family and friends?
  • What would you do to get updates from local authorities?
  • Does your company have a business continuity plan in place?
  • Could you survive in severely cold or hot temperatures?
  • Would you have enough food and water?
  • Do you have enough flashlights, batteries or back-up generation for an extended power outage?

These are just a few of the questions you'll need to be prepared to answer, if a mass, long-term power loss threatens your area.

Understand the Risk

Thunderstorms can cause outages in your community that are often quickly restored. However, there is the possibility—regardless of where you live or work—for extended, large scale disruptions to the U.S. power grid, caused by a natural disaster, cyber-attack or other manmade event. These impacts would be felt not just in your home or office, but in the transport of goods across our country, the provision of clean water to communities, and the use of critical communications channels, including radio and television, as well as landline and mobile phones.

In this situation, local, state and federal emergency responders will be doing what they can to save lives and protect property. Individually, it is imperative that you think through what you will do: How will you maintain contact with and ensure the safety of your family members and staff, and preserve your business processes until electricity is restored?

Take Steps Now to be Ready at Home:

  1. Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Be sure to include a flashlight, battery operated radio, at least a 72-hour supply of non-perishable food and water, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  2. Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home. For more helpful tips, visit FEMA's Tech Ready page.
  3. Keep your car's gas tank full—gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  4. If you rely on a medical device that is battery-operated or power dependent, have a back-up plan. A plan may involve purchasing an emergency standby generator or making arrangements to stay at a healthcare facility that has backup power.
  5. Plan for relocation, if it becomes necessary. If the power remains out for days, have a plan for where to go—whether it's a relative or friend's home or an emergency shelter.
  6. Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.

Take Steps to Prepare Your Business

  1. Create a business continuity plan that considers all hazards that may affect your business, including a long-term power outage. For more information about the planning process, visit the Business Ready website.
  2. Encourage personal preparedness of your employees. Make sure each staff member has a personal plan in place, including an emergency supply kit at as well as a way to maintain contact with their family in the event of a disaster.
  3. Maintain an inventory of all business equipment, identify systems that would be affected by an outage, and determine what may need to be turned off in the event of a power loss.
  4. Make sure staff members are trained on shutting-off equipment power switches as well as reestablishing those systems after the power is restored.
  5. Check your back-up systems. If you do not have back-up generation, be aware of where you can rent a portable generator and how to install and operate it.

Consider downloading the FEMA app (via Apple App Store or Google Play), which provides valuable safety tips to help you prepare for and recover from more than 20 natural and man-made hazards. The app also provides family communication plans, customizable checklist of emergency supplies, and maps of open shelters and disaster recovery centers.

More information and tips for you and your business to prepare for power outages or other disasters can be found by visiting Ready.gov.

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