After Hurricane Sandy blew through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast causing millions of power outages, what do you do now that the power is out?
The first place to start is to contact your local utility company. While Constellation is a supplier and not a utility, we are dedicated to providing helpful, useful information for our customers. Your utility owns and maintains the infrastructure that delivers electricity to your home and is responsible for restoring power. If you see downed power lines, it’s even more important that you call — and quick.
It’s also recommended that you turn off lights and electrical appliances, including the air conditioner, and unplug computers and other sensitive equipment to protect them from power surges when the power returns. Leave one light on so you know when power is restored, but wait at least 15 minutes before turning on other appliances.
Safeguarding food is more difficult and depends entirely on how long the power is out. The food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume if power is restored within two hours. Just keep the doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If power is out for longer, you should be aware of these basic guidelines:
–A freezer half full will safely hold food for up to 24 hours; a full freezer will hold food for up to 48 hours. When your freezer is not full, keep items close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.
–Block ice will keep your refrigerator cold, but because it melts, it’s smart to place the ice in a container that can catch the drippings. For your freezer, use dry ice. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for two days. Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
–Coolers offer another option for refrigerated items. Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and other spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice.
–Use foods first that can spoil quickly.
–Once power is restored, you may refreeze food if the freezer is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and no ice crystals have formed on the packaging. The magic number for refrigerated food is the same. Throw out any food exposed to temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
–Never taste food or rely on appearance to determine its safety. Bacteria-causing foodborne illness can start growing quickly. Instead, take its temperature with a food thermometer.
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