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Be ready now in case power goes out
Here's a handy checklist to print and save.
A little preparation and common sense are key to getting through a storm safely. Here's a handy checklist to print and save.
Generator, heater safety
Tips for using a generator to supply power to your home or business:
• The generator MUST be kept outdoors while running.
• DO NOT refuel the generator while it is running.
• If fuel is accidentally spilled in proximity to the generator, make sure that the fuel spill is cleaned up before restarting the generator.
• Have a fire extinguisher immediately available.
• Do not plug your generator into a household outlet. Power may back feed and injure people working to restore power in your neighborhood.
• Be certain that the exhaust and/or muffler is kept away and pointed away from any combustible material.
• Be careful not to overload the electrical capacity of the generator when connecting to household appliances.
• When using extension cords to connect the generator to household appliances, make sure that exhaust cannot enter the house at the same point extension cords come in.
• Never burn charcoal indoors. Charcoal produces toxic fumes that can kill quickly.
• Get fresh air and help right away if you feel sick or dizzy while using a generator or space heater. Fatigue, nausea or sleepiness are signs of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Have a power-outage kit that includes:
• Flashlights and batteries
• Glow-in-the-dark sticks
• A lantern
• Windup clock
• Portable radio and batteries
• Mylar blanket
• Can opener
• If you have an automatic garage door, be sure you know how to open the door manually.
• Use hot water sparingly.
• Turn off most electrical devices and unplug sensitive electrical equipment.
• Leave a couple of lights switched on, however, so you'll know when the power returns.
Refrigerated, frozen food
• A refrigerator should always be kept at 40 degrees or below and a freezer at 0 degrees or below.
• The refrigerator should keep food safely cold about four hours, if the door is not opened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed). Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below.
• Get block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days. (Be careful handling dry ice.)
• If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 degrees or below, the food is safe.
• Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer.
• If you don't have an appliance thermometer, check each package of food. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
• Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.
• When in doubt, throw it out.
If your home or car
• Contact your insurance agent or company to file a claim immediately. Filing a claim quickly enables your insurance company to get to you sooner.
• Document damage; take pictures.
• If safe to do so, make temporary repairs to prevent further damage from rain or wind. Save receipts for reimbursement.
• Use only licensed, reputable building contractors and be sure they get the proper permits.
• Avoid contractors who ask for a large deposit upfront or whose bids are remarkably low. This may indicate a willingness to cut corners or leave work unfinished.
• Don't pay a lot for temporary repairs unless authorized by your insurance adjuster. You could get stuck with the bill if repairs are deemed excessive.
• Don't discard anything that is damaged until it has been examined by your adjuster. You could miss out on coverage for that item.
Source: Times news services; King County's Office of Emergency Management; U.S. Department of Agriculture; NW Insurance Council