Red Cross shares tips for prolonged power outages during wildfire season

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LOS ANGELES — As Southern California faces red flag warnings for critical wildfire conditions and projected power outages, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region offers tips for how to keep everyone as comfortable and safe as possible.

“For prolonged power outages, there are ways that you can minimize loss and keep your loved ones as comfortable as possible,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO of the Red Cross LA. “Talk with your family about safety steps that can be taken – not just for facing a power outage but about how to prevent a wildfire and what to do if one occurs.”

Here are 6 tips everyone should keep in mind when dealing with a possible power outage:

  1. Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
  3. Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
  4. Turn off or disconnect any appliances — such as stoves — equipment and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  5. Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.
  6. Download the Red Cross Emergency App to get real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during power outages and countless other emergencies.

If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.

  • First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables are safe to eat when they have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Then, use food from the freezer.
  • If 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 cover it at all times.

If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles.
  • Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
  • Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.

Now that wildfire season has begun for Southern California there is a higher risk for wildfire because of low-humidity and other fire-conducive conditions. “Helping Angelenos prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters such as wildfires is at the heart of our mission,” said Barrios. “Being prepared helps our communities be more resilient — or bounce back — after a disaster.”

For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossLA or @CruzRojaLA.

Submitted by Red Cross Los Angeles