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Power Outages

A "power outage" refers to those times when regular electric service has been interrupted by damage to power lines or power stations due to storms, floods, land slides, earthquakes, and so on. During a disaster situation, electric power can be out for days or weeks. It is important to plan ahead for the possibility of losing electric power. Know where the flashlight and other emergency supplies are kept.



What do I need to prepare for a power outage?

  • Flashlights, extra batteries and matches. Keep them where you can find them in the dark.
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Battery-powered or wind-up clock.
  • Canned or dried non-perishable food, and a manual can opener.
  • A safe alternate source of heat and extra fuel (wood, kerosene).
  • Extra blankets and warm clothes.
  • One gallon of bottled drinking water per person per day.
  • A gallon of liquid chlorine bleach for sanitizing utensils and dishes.
  • A regular (not cordless) phone.

When the power goes out

  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. Even if it is dark, turn light switches, buttons on lamps or appliances to the "off" position.
  • After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.

Stay warm

  • Wear extra layers of clothes and use several layers of blankets.
  • Do not get wet if there is no way to get dry.
  • Drink and eat enough to preserve health.
  • Close off all rooms that are not in use and do not need to be heated.
  • To keep rooms warm, close curtains, shades or drapes. Cover doors and windows.

How to keep food safe

  • Use foods that spoil rapidly first.
  • Keep cold food cold. Use dry ice or an ice chest. In winter, store food outside.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to conserve cold air.
  • If food is cold to touch, it is probably safe to keep, use or refreeze.
  • Discard meat, seafood, dairy products and cooked food that are not cold to touch.
  • Fruits, vegetables and food in undamaged cans are safe.
  • Food that needs no refrigeration: jelly, butter, margarine, ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish.
  • If in doubt, throw it out.
  • For information on food safety, call your health department or cooperative extension service.

If outdoors:

  • Never use open combustion units (gas or charcoal barbecues, hibachis) inside the home.
  • If traffic lights go out, treat all intersections as 4-way stops. It's required by law for safety.
  • Minimize driving to conserve fuel. You cannot refill the tank during a power outage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.
  • Stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
  • Call Public Safety about downed lines.
  • Don't get wet if you have no way to get dry.


  • Check yourself and those around you for injuries.
  • Stock up for the next power outage.
  • Cautiously evacuate damaged buildings and do not re-enter until declared safe by campus officials.
  • Call 475-3333 v/tty to contact Public Safety to report a life threatening emergency.
  • Campus officials will use email or post fliers with instructions or an official "all clear" notice.

Additional Information

National Weather Service

American Red Cross

New York - Extension Disaster Education Network


Staying Informed

RIT's Emergency Line (recorded message): (585) 475-7075 and (585) 475-7076 TTY