Emergency Preparedness: Power Outages

Our weather in the Pacific Northwest is part of what makes our lives here special. However, severe weather can also have consequences that are at best inconvenient and at worst devastating.

Extended power outages can affect many aspects of our lives and economy. Power outages can affect us at home by causing food spoilage, disabling heating or cooling systems, or preventing usage of some medical devices. Outages can affect the ways that we communicate both at home and at work. Widespread outages affect transportation systems and can close banks, ATMs, grocery stores, etc.

Quick Tips During a Power Outage

Since we don’t know how long a power outage might last, you need to plan and prepare for the worst case – an extended outage. Here are a few tips:

  • Protect food by keeping your freezer and refrigerator closed.
  • Protect temperature-sensitive medications.
  • Have alternate power plans for special medical devices.
  • Use a generator, but only outdoors and away from doors and windows.
  • Do NOT use your gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronic gear (TVs, computers, etc.) to avoid surge damage.

Protecting Yourself During a Power Outage

  • Make a plan for those critical appliances and devices that require electricity. Stock batteries or other power sources to supply them for a multi-day period.
  • Talk to your medical provider about how to power medical devices requiring electricity. Find out from them if there are any storage temperature requirements for your critical medications. 
  • Food storage is very important to plan for. Refrigerators can keep food safe and cold for a few hours if kept closed. Freezers can keep a low temperature for perhaps 48 hours. Once the outage has been corrected, throw out all food that has been exposed to warmer temperatures.

Using Appliances During a Power Outage

  • Be sure to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home!
  • Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills must only be use outdoors – not near a window or door, and not in a garage.
  • Again, don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Disconnect your electric appliances during an outage to prevent damage to them from electrical surges during the outage or when utility workers are restoring power.

Preparedness List

Things To Do

  • Do an inventory of battery powered devices (flashlights, headlamps, etc.) and make sure you have plenty of fresh batteries available.
  • Keep some cash in your emergency kit – small bills – to use when stores are without power.

Items to Purchase

  • Consider purchasing at least one hand-powered flashlight. You can also purchase hand-powered devices that are both flashlights and radios. 


Tigard CERT Inc. is a local non-profit organization allied with the City of Tigard that trains volunteers in basic emergency response and organizational skills following the Federal Emergency Management Agency model and guidelines for local Community Emergency Response Teams. For more information about Tigard CERT, please visit our website at tigardcert.wordpress.com.