Severe storms are devastating to homes, properties, and lives. These storms can also take down power lines. When the power goes out unexpectedly, it may disrupt communications, water, and transportation. Power outages can also close businesses, cause food spoilage, and prevent the use of medical devices.

What to do before and during a power outage

BEFORE
  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for essential health care devices that are powered by electricity and refrigerated medications.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs.
  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems, such as Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
  • Review supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for each household member. Have enough non-perishable food and water to support each member of your family for up to 72 hours.
  • Use a thermostat in your refrigerator and freezer so you know the temperature when power is restored.
  • Keep mobile phones charged and keep gas tanks full.
DURING
  • Know the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia
  • Cover exposed skin to reduce risk of frostbite and hypothermia
  • Check media for emergency information and follow instructions from public safety officials
  • Reduce outdoor activities for your family, including pets
  • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Wear a hat, mittens, and sturdy waterproof boots. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Follow safety precautions when using space heaters, a fireplace, or woodstove to heat your home:
    • Keep space heaters three feet away from anything that can burn. Keep anything that can burn three feet from a fireplace, or wood-burning stove.
    • Plug space heaters directly into outlets, do not use extension cords.
    • Dispose of wood-burning stove and fireplace ashes in a metal can with a lid. Put them outside away from the house
  • If you lose heating, move into a single room. At night, cover windows and external doors with extra blankets or sheets.
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspaper covered in plastic to prevent them from freezing. Let a trickle of warm water run from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.
  • If your pipes freeze, open all faucets all the way, remove any insulation around pipes. Heat the frozen pipe with a hair dryer or wrap with towels soaked in hot water. NEVER use an open flame to thaw pipes.
  • Check with local officials or call 2-1-1 to find warming centers or shelters near you.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who may need extra help.

Additional Resources

Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Utility Service Interruptions:

Federal Emergency Management Agency – Be prepared for a power outage: