After a storm, danger in and around your home is a real possibility.
Storm clean up tips, food safety, CO awareness and electrical hazard information from the Lexington Office of Public Health
Gas Leaks and Electrical Hazards
If your power is out, call EverSource at 800-662-7764.
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to EverSource at 800-662-7764. If they are blocking a street or sidewalk, also call the Police business line at 781-862-1212.
Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering. Be extra cautious when you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by trees or debris, and could be live. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines, and keep children and pets away from them. Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences. Always assume a downed line is a live line.
In order to protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, you should unplug all sensitive electronic equipment and garage door opener. (Review the process for manually operating an electric garage door.)
Stay out of any building if you smell natural gas (rotten egg like odor). Call National Grid at 800-233-5325.
Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do not use candles.
Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
Food Safety After a Power Failure
Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When power goes off in the refrigerator, you can normally expect food inside to stay safely cold for 4 to 6 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
A fully stocked freezer will keep food frozen 2 days if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer can keep foods frozen about one day.
Additional guidelines for food safety:
- Add a block of ice to the refrigerator if the electricity is off longer than 4-6 hours. Place the ice so that it doesn't wet food as it melts.
- High protein foods (dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry) should be consumed as soon as possible if power is not restored immediately. They cannot be stored safely at room temperature.
- Fruits and vegetables can be kept safely at room temperature until there are obvious signs of spoilage.
- If you are purchasing perishable foods from a market in an area that has been affected by power outages, make sure that the cold foods have been kept below 45 degrees F. and that hot foods have been kept above 140 degrees F.
Avoid Mold Growth
When rain or flood waters get into your building, take steps to prevent mold growth.
- Clean and dry wet items within 48 to 72 hours.
- Keep wet areas well-ventilated.
- Discard wet materials that can’t be repaired.
- How to clean up mold
Carbon Monoxide and Generator Safety
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is odorless and deadly and can quickly accumulate indoors. Make sure your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in working order.
NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation.
Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off. Always use generators outdoors, well away from windows and doors.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using a generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator directly into household wiring, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
Prepare now for the Next Emergency
Your friends, neighbors and colleagues are more likely to prepare for the various weather hazards that frequently impact New England when they see those around them prepare, so inspire them to act by being an example yourself.
Take the First Step: Pledge to Prepare
The resources you will receive once doing so provide tools for making your family and community, safer, more resilient, and better prepared For additional information about Emergency Preparedness, go to:
- Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health