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Plan & Prepare

Power Outages: What to do Before a Blackout Happens

Power Outages: Read This First!

Click here to learn how to build an emergency supply kit with the items you will need to remain self-sufficient for up to three days; if a hurricane is coming, consider supplies for up to two weeks.

  • Create a family disaster plan that includes sheltering in place and evacuation, and a family communication plan with an out-of-state family contact. Click here for more details: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan
  • Keep contact information for your utility in an easy-to-find place. Sign up for text or email alerts from your utility.

If You Rely on Electricity for Medical Needs

Make a backup plan for electrical power.

Click here to read a Checklist on Emergency Power Planning for People who use Electricity and Battery Dependent Assistive Technology and Medical Devices by June Isaacson Kailes:

Inform officials about your needs.

Register with NJ Register Ready to alert local officials in advance about your need for additional assistance in an emergency registerready.nj.gov.

You may also want to register with local police and local or County Office of Emergency Management NOW, to make sure they have a record of your needs if there is a blackout. When you call your county, ask for the Access/Functional Needs Coordinator or the County OEM Coordinator.

REMEMBER: Registration with your utility company about your medical reliance on electricity only applies to non-payment of bills. It does not have any impact on how quickly your power will be restored.

Battery-operated equipment: If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system or other power-dependent equipment, obtain a chargeror keep an extra battery. If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.

Blind or visual disability: If you are blind or have a visual disability, store a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.

Refrigerated medication requires special planning.

  • Standard freezer packs and ice from a local store may be adequate in some events.
  • Consider purchasing a specialized medical cooler; this may be important if you are required to evacuate.
  • Longer term outages require more planning; the possibilities include purchase of a generator to run a refrigerator, propane-fueled refrigerators or other specialized equipment

Additional Steps

Car: Keep your car's fuel tank full. Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

Cash: Keep a reserve of cash in small denominations; ATMs will not work without power.

Computer: Prepare your computer:

  • Keep files and operating systems backed up regularly. Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop.
  • Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers and scanners when they are not being used. If the power goes out, they will have already been safely shut down.
  • Get a high quality surge protector for all your computer equipment.
  • If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment dealer about available equipment and costs.

Electric garage door openers:

  • Find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Your garage door may be heavy, so get help to lift it.
  • If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home after work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you in case the garage door will not open.

Cordless phones and devices: Cordless phones, answering machines or other devices will not work without electricity or a power source, plan for alternate means to power your communication devices.

  • Keep one standard landline telephone handset if that’s an option.
  • If you have voice over internet phone (VOIP) through your cable or wireless carrier, you can purchase additional batteries for your phone so that it will continue to operate if power is off for more than 2 hours.
  • Have batteries and car chargers for cell phones, pagers or other devices. Most cell and mobile phones can be charged off of a running car engine with the right equipment.

(Much of the information on this page is adapted from information provided by the American Red Cross, FEMA and the National Weather Service).

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New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P. O. Box 7068
Trenton, NJ 08628


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