Safety Tips for Surviving a Power Outage in a Digital World

In the United States, the worst winter storm in recent memory occurred in January 2009, when an ice storm spanning across Arkansas and Kentucky left 1.3 million people without power, many for as long as 10 days. Forty-two people died and debris from the storm lingered into the summer.

I lived in Arkansas during that time and I was lucky to have stocked up on batteries, candles, matches, and all that good stuff. Yep, sometimes it’s a blessing having Anxiety Disorder and OCD because my “prepper” phase kicked in and I survived alone with three babies during that storm while my husband was deployed. However, it wasn’t just that particular storm that I had to prep for. Arkansas is located right in the middle of Tornado Alley, so in the March-May months I lived on the edge preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

arkansas storm 2009
My kids out making a snowman before the Arkansas 2009 storm got bad. The storm left 1.3 million people without power, many for as long as 10 days.

No one knows when another storm like that could appear again, so it’s important to be prepared. Because when your world suddenly goes dark, it’s good to know there’s light at the end and throughout the storm.

A flash of lighting, a loud clap of thunder and BOOM! Suddenly everything goes dark and you know the power in your home is officially out.

Just about everyone has experienced a power outage due to a seasonal storm in their lifetime and it is a trend that continues to grow between super storms and ageing infrastructure. And with more and more homeowners relying on technology to run their homes — from appliances to utilities to entertainment — when the power goes out, consumers are more easily frustrated.

Cummins, a global leader in backup power solutions, conducted a Harris Poll survey to better understand Americans’ intolerance of power outages in today’s digital age. Has modern technology and digital homes made people more intolerant of losing their power?

The survey polled 2,000 adults and 61 percent reported they feel frustration when the power goes out. In addition, 22 percent said there was nothing fun about a power outage. Of those who reported they could be entertained for some time with no power, 32 percent said it stopped being fun after one to four hours. It’s no surprise then that 29 percent of respondents would rather wait in line at the DMV than lose power.

The research also shows Americans’ tolerance for a power outage is at its lowest during the busiest home periods of the day. Sixty-three percent (63%) of respondents said the worst time for a power outage was in the evening (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.). This was followed by the morning when people are getting up and trying to get ready to go to work.


When inconvenience turns dangerous 

In some cases, a power outage is more than just an annoyance, it can also be a dangerous and costly devastation.

“Winter outages are especially dangerous because people take desperate actions to try and provide the heat they need and that can lead to further problems or injuries,” says Natural Disaster Preparedness Expert and Meteorologist Cheryl Nelson.

For example, if your power should go out during the winter, you should never look to kerosene heaters, grills, or any other type of outdoor heater to fill the void. These heat sources can pose fire and carbon monoxide risks. In addition to the dangers of winter storm, losing power can mean losing dollars from spoiled food and costs to repair frozen pipes and water damage.

Nelson says a safer and reliable solution to avoid losing power all together is to invest in a standby generator. The Cummins QuietConnect line of generators present a dependable, energy-efficient solution that turns on automatically in the event of a power outage, allowing power to seamlessly continue running. You can learn more at


According to Ready.Gov, here are some tips during a power outage:

  • Only use flashlights for emergency lighting, candles can cause fires.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours.For more information about food safety visit the Ready.Gov food page.
  • Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
  • If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing.
  • Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home’s electrical system.

For more tips and advice on Natural Disaster Preparedness, I recommend grabbing a copy of The Disaster Preparedness Handbook: A Guide For Families

About Kat Mahoney

My name is Kat. I'm a Digital Educator, Tech Consultant, Author/Blogger, and Community Family Advisor. Most importantly, I'm a proud geekmom to three high schoolers and wife to an amazing retired military soldier. I love technology, video games, board games, Sci-Fi, cosplay, Star Wars, travel, coffee, crafting, and positive thinkers! Physically I'm here, but mentally I'm in a galaxy FAR FAR AWAY!

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