The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

Storm and Outage

Are you prepared for a power outage?

June 1, 2017 | Jodi Baker | power outages, safety, tips
cellphone charging on a table, prepare for a power outage

When a power outage occurs, you don’t have to just sit around and wait. There are 10 simple ways you can prepare for a power outage.

Be prepared

  • Make a disaster preparation kit. Include necessities such as water and non-perishable food, medication, and a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, among other things. Store it in your basement or other shelter location.
  • Stash flashlights in a couple of places you can easily find in the dark. Make sure they have batteries and are working.
  • Charge your cell phones, tablets and other battery-powered devices ahead of time. For extra power, consider purchasing a portable charger to provide back-up power for those devices.
  • Leverage technology to your advantage. Download the OPPDConnect application for your smartphone and/or tablet. From the home page, you can easily report a power outage and connect to, which provides outage updates in addition to other weather-related information and news.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank ahead of a big storm, since gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • If you have an electric garage door opener, know the location of the manual release lever and how to use it.
  • Turn off and unplug unnecessary electrical equipment, especially sensitive items like computers. Consider residential surge guard protection from OPPD. If you lose power, make sure to leave at least one light switch on, so you’ll know when it’s restored.

Remember food safety

  • To be extra safe, pick up a couple of appliance thermometers ahead of time – one for your freezer and one for your refrigerator. After an outage, the refrigerator thermometer should read at or below 40 degrees. If food has been above this temperature for two hours or more, throw it away. The freezer thermometer should be at or below zero degrees.
  • If and when power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed for the duration of the outage. Food can usually keep up at least four hours, as long as those doors stay shut.
  • Remember, a full refrigerator and freezer will keep their cool longer. According to, a full freezer is capable of keeping its temperature for up to 48 hours. If the fridge and freezer are not already loaded with food, freeze water in containers, like 2-liter bottles or large bowls. Keep extras in your freezer, and add some to your refrigerator just ahead of a storm for an added chill. Or, just purchase some bags of ice. After an outage, check frozen food for ice crystals. If they are still on the package, the food can be refrozen safely.


For more strategies on preparing for and coping with power outages, visit


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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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