Weathering a power outage in northeast Ohio: A few simple tips can go a long way

Open your refridgerator only in an emergency

CLEVELAND - The number of northeast Ohio homes without power has peaked at more than 240,000. Now comes the task of dealing with the outage and wondering how long the power will remain out.

When it comes to food in your refrigerator, the USDA recommends opening the doors as little as possible. Food in the refrigerator can easily last 4 hours, if the door is kept closed and only opened when absolutely necessary. Food that is is kept below 40 degrees is generally considered to be safe to eat.

Food in the freezer section can last considerably longer: 48 hours if the freezer is full and 24 hours if the freezer is half full. More USDA advice about food shelf life during a power outage can be found on this website

Flash lights and batteries are an obvious need when weathering an extended power outage. Candles and a supply of matches are also important.

Rudy Rosales of Rudy's Hardware in Cleveland urges residents to always consider safety first when dealing with long power outages.

"Candles are good, but they can also be dangerous," said Rosales. "Candles should be placed in an aluminum pan, so if they tip over they won't start a fire."

Rosales recommends owning a propane heater, a generator, a good manual can opener and unplugging all electronic equipment to avoid damage when the power is suddenly restored.

"Unplug your computers, unplug anything with a transformer," Rosales said. "When that power comes on, there can be a big surge, and that could destroy your equipment."

Create a power outage emergency kit, with non-perishable food, candles, matches, flashlights and batteries, a battery-operated radio, blankets and a manual can opener.

Know the location of the fuse box or circuit breaker in your home, and understand how to reset the circuit if necessary or change a blown fuse.

It's also important to learn how to override and manually operate your electric garage door.

Rosales said he believes it's critical to be prepared for a blackout in advance, his East 71 Street hardware store was swamped with homeowners looking to buy generators.

"I've had countless requests for generators, same as yesterday," said Rosales. "They're looking all over. There aren't any left in Cleveland. Everyone wants a generator. They don't plan ahead." 

More tips on how to be ready for a power outrage can be found on this website .

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