Tag: food spoilage

Power outage scheduled for next week


Just a couple of days ago I wrote about an upcoming power outages and how we might expect more of them this summer.

This morning I became aware that our local utility has scheduled not one, not two, but three power outages in our community for next week!

All three of the outages have different outage numbers, and all three have different start and end times, but they overlap each other.  Huh???

Now the way I heard about it was through my Emergency Response Team friends, because apparently my house is not involved. As you can imagine, I got on the phone and went up through a couple layers of customer service to learn that  . . .

  • Yes, the longest power outage is scheduled to last 24 and ½ hours.
  • Yes, the maintenance work has to be done “to improve our service to you.”  (!)

Now, picture the situation and why it could be an emergency.

Facts about our community.

Our senior retirement community has 360 homes.  Some of our residents are VERY elderly, and in frail health. Many live alone, with no family nearby. Probably a third of them don’t drive – or shouldn’t drive. These folks are stuck here. For them to have to leave would be traumatic.

Facts about power outages in our community.

  • When the power is out, there’s no light. (We’re ready for that!)
  • CPAP machines, air conditioners, humidifiers and oxygen concentrators stop working. (Average high temperature around here in July is 81 degrees. Not too hot, but still . . .)
  • Electric chairs and electric beds stop working in whatever position they were in when the power went out. Doorbells stop working and so do elevators, if you have one.
  • In an unopened refrigerator it takes only about 4 hours before things start to spoil. If the refrigerator reaches 90 degrees, it could take only an hour for food to spoil.
  • A FULLY PACKED unopened freezer can safely store food for as long as 48 hours. If it’s only half full, food will last about half that long. (So I know you are thinking, well, “Just eat all those steaks and casseroles!” No power to cook them with, remember?)

So how am I telling my neighbors to prepare?

So far, I’m not able to give them much help, because we’re still working on the problem.

First, we’re trying to see if a little pressure from the City could cause the utility to break their work schedule into shorter chunks of time. (I head up our neighborhood emergency response team, remember? That gives me a direct line to the Office of Emergency Management.)

Second, we’ve made arrangements with a local store to order 10 lb. chunks of ice to extending the cooling life of our refrigerators and freezers. We’re also reminding people to freeze containers of water to fill up their refrigerators and freezers.

Finally, we’re checking to see if there would be any homeowner’s insurance coverage for food lost by spoilage. So far, I’ve found YES and NO answers — always the case with insurance, right?

I will, of course, let you know what happens. 

In the meanwhile, do you have any experience with power outages, scheduled or unexpected? Have you discovered any clever ways to prepare? Please share!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Day 18 of Summer Vacation: A time for some shorter and lighter Advisories as a welcome change-of-pace!