Weather Center

What to Do During a Power Outage

By James Mayfield and Jen Alexander 2.11.15

During the past two decades, the number of weather-related major power outages in the U.S. has skyrocketed. According to a Harris Poll survey, about one in four U.S. adults suffered through an outage lasting a whopping 12 hours or more in the last two years.

Knowing it’s just a matter of time before the next one hits your home, it’s important to know what to do when you’re left in the dark.


  • Download applicable weather apps and sign up for alerts for up-to-the minute information. 
  • Look for hazards such as low-hanging branches over power lines.
  • Unplug major appliances to avoid a power surge when the power does return.
  • Test your fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and home alarms.
  • Leave water taps open just enough to drip continuously if the temperatures consistently dip below freezing.
  • Seal up energy drainers such as drafty window casings and keep exterior doors closed and shut off unused interior rooms.
  • Block drafts with towels and insulate windows by closing blinds and curtains, or hang extra blankets over curtain rods.
  • Stock up on supplies from your emergency evacuation kit

Stay Safe

Follow these tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s site

  • Don’t light candles due to extreme risk of fire.
  • Do use flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, or even headlamps to get you where you’re going safely.
  • Don’t fire up the grill or fuel-powered generators inside your home or garage, where carbon monoxide emissions can be deadly, and never use the oven as a source for heat.
  • Do keep the fridge doors closed as much as possible to keep food, liquids, and medications fresher longer.
  • Don’t hook up a generator to your home’s electrical system
  • Do connect equipment directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Don’t leave electrical items such as appliances, equipment, and electronic devices plugged in and at risk of damage from power surges and spikes.
  • Do leave one light “on” to alert you to when the power returns.
  • Don’t attempt to walk or drive around until storm debris has been cleared.
  • Do listen to a battery-operated, portable radio so you know when the coast is clear.

Consider a Backup

In Texas, where both cold and warm fronts blow in throughout the year and can create havoc, odds are increasingly high that you’ll experience some degree of power failure during the next 12 months. A generator, either fixed or portable, can ensure you’re not left in the dark — or out in the cold.

Backup generators can run on many types of fuel, including natural gas, propane, gasoline, diesel, and biodiesel. Propane, which is available in smaller cylinders (5 to 10 gallons), is the easiest to store and handle when needed. It also has a virtually unlimited shelf life. That makes it ideal for power outages, when gas stations may not have gas or diesel fuel available, or you may not be able to leave your home to refuel. Propane generators are also the quieter and more emission-compliant option. Keep in mind that it’s important to use generators safely

Make Sure You’re Covered

Lastly, review your property insurance policy so you know what types of incidents or damages are covered. Your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent can help you answer questions such as: Does your policy cover tree removal if ice or snow caused it to break and fall on your home? Is wind damage to the home covered? What about appliances and electronics that might be damaged by a power surge, or water damage if your pipes burst? Call your Agent today

For more advice during a blackout, follow this pioneer’s guide to winter power outages

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2015 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance