Not All See the Light When It Comes to Power Outage Dangers

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a power outage?

Most people would say it’s their lights going out. When an outage occurs at night, it’s the first thing you notice.

And even when power goes out during the day, people realize they might not have light in their homes after sunset.

But there are other, hidden problems associated with a blackout. And I’m not sure everyone is thinking about them. A survey revealed that 51 percent of people would miss their TV the most in an outage. Only 4 percent said they’d miss heat the most.

Can you restore at least some power in your home before the electric company does? If not, you’ll have to deal with more important issues than missing a reality TV show. It’s all about being prepared and self-reliant.

Food Spoilage

One of the dilemmas with a power outage is food spoilage. If the blackout lasts only a few hours, food in your refrigerator and freezer should be fine.

But many outages go on for many hours and sometimes days. That means all your fresh and frozen food goes to waste if you don’t have another way to keep it cold.

Without power, the best way to keep your food cold for as long as possible is to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed.

Once power is restored, throw out food that has an unusual odor, texture or color to it. As well as perishables including meat, poultry, fish and eggs. When in doubt, toss it out.

Water Contamination

Another problem associated with a blackout is potentially contaminated water. Depending on how widespread the outage is, city water purification systems may not work properly.

If the water coming out of your faucets is contaminated, you could get sick or worse. In addition to drinking it, that includes usage for personal hygiene.

It’s always important to keep your water clean of contaminants. But it becomes even more so during an outage.

Use a water purifier or bottled water for drinking, teeth brushing, bathing and cleaning. Boiling your water or disinfecting it with bleach will get rid of some disease-causing organisms. But not all of them.

Medicines & Medical Devices

A particularly scary thing about losing power for some people is keeping their medications cold.

Some drugs require refrigeration to maintain their strength. Including a number of liquid drugs. Can you keep those medications cold during an outage? If not, it’s best to dispose of them and request new ones.

Equally frightening for some folks during a blackout is a non-working medical device. Many of them are dependent on electricity.

These would include oxygen machines and home dialysis equipment. Plus respirators, ventilators and others. Not to mention power wheelchairs and scooters.

Heat & Air Conditioning

Extreme cold or heat can actually cause power outages. Blackouts are more likely to occur during inclement weather.

That means a lack of needed heat in the winter. And a lack of necessary cooling in the summer.

This is not only uncomfortable. It can actually be life-threatening in some circumstances.

When it’s exceptionally cold in your home, put on layers of clothing. That will help maintain body heat. If it’s hot, drink plenty of fluids to help avoid heat-related illnesses. 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When outages occur due to a natural disaster or other emergencies, some people use alternate sources for fuel or electricity.

Usually this is for the purpose of cooking or heating. The problem here is that carbon monoxide (CO) can sometimes be released into the air.

This is an extremely dangerous problem. CO is a colorless, odorless gas. People don’t know if it’s in the air they’re breathing until it’s too late. It can cause sudden illness and even death if inhaled. In fact, it kills an average of 500-plus Americans per year.

This message is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“During a power outage, never use (gas-powered) generators, grills or other gasoline-, propane- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, garage or carport, or near doors, windows or vents.”

Back to the Lights

Earlier I mentioned lights going out as the first thing people notice when the power goes out.

And while it’s hardly the only problem in a blackout, it is an important one. Especially during the winter when there are fewer daylight hours.

Without electric lights, some people immediately light candles. But we all know the potential danger with candles. Including when people fail to put them out before going to bed.

Flashlights are a much better solution. Assuming you remember where you put them. In the meantime, trying to find things you need in your home with lights out can be a big challenge.

Outside Your Home

Everything I’ve mentioned so far involves what occurs in a home when the power goes out.

But there could be additional issues outside your home. Without power, you won’t be able to keep a porch light on. That means someone could approach your front door in darkness.

A major power outage could also make it impossible for some gas stations to pump gas. Not every service station has a back-up generator.

If the blackout forces you to leave your home at some point, hopefully you’ll have a full tank of gas. As well as additional gas in safe containers in your garage.

Power in a Powerless Situation

It’s clear there is more involved with a power outage than losing your lights. Although that is important.

And it’s obvious that not being able to watch television would probably be the least of your worries.

No matter what you would miss most in a blackout, there are all sorts of hidden dangers.

Being able to keep food from spoiling, heat working, lights on and much more provides you with peace of mind… when others around you are powerless.


  • Rita Stuart - March 09, 2020

    I just got my personal blender and want to say it is innovative and does exactly what I need it to do which is blend food for my special needs child who eats only blended food. It had enough power to perfectly blend a hamburger and works with my Patriot Power Cell. Thank you.

  • Jesse Glessner - March 06, 2020

    A much safer source of light is LED Bulbs! Buy the small 2 post bulbs and receptacles on-line along with 20 gauge wire (white & black) and a 12 V battery and a switch. Check Amazon for these products.
    Wire up your emergency lights by string the far apart to reach necessary rooms you will be using – and where possible try to direct the bulbs toward the ceiling. You will be amazed at the output the lights have when doing that. You could even use a large car battery, but, keep it on a maintainer so that you DO have power when needed. No fire from these and the switch will be invaluable when you need the string. You might eve do 2, 3, or 4 switches and only light one room at a time to save battery power!

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