When the power goes out in your apartment, it can be a scary and disruptive experience. However, there are some things you can do to be prepared.
Start by checking your breaker box. If the switches are flipped or showing an orange indicator, this means the problem is limited to your apartment.
1. Check Your Circuit Breaker or Fuse Box
If the power goes out in your apartment, check your circuit breaker or fuse box to see if any switches have been flipped. Fuses keep circuits from overheating, which can cause a fire or damage appliances. If one has been flipped, it should be easy to tell. It will either look foggy or have a wire that has melted. Then you can turn the switch back on. If it trips again, it could be a sign that you have too many things plugged in to the same circuit or there is a more serious problem with your apartment’s wiring that will need your landlord’s attention.
If you don’t know where your breaker box or fuse box is, ask the landlord or someone else who lives in the building. They should have shown you where it is when you moved in and can usually point it out in a hallway or closet. If not, you can usually find it in a garage or basement or someplace nearby that is accessible. Just make sure you have a flashlight and don’t search in the dark unless you have to!
Older homes and apartments may still use fuses instead of breakers. If this is the case, you will likely have a metal box somewhere in your home or apartment that has anywhere from two to eight slots. It has a metal door that must be unlatched and peered into in order to find the fuses, which are round and screw into the box very much like the socket for a light bulb. Fuses can be changed while the power is on, but it’s a good idea to use extreme caution as doing so with live electricity could cause an electrical short that can lead to a fire or injury. It is also a good idea to have some replacement fuses on hand, just in case. This way, you’ll be prepared the next time your apartment’s power does go out.
2. Check With Your Neighbors
Scorching summer heat has caused a strain on the city’s power grid and, as a result, a number of localized power outages have been popping up across New York. While these outages are frustrating, they’re nothing to be alarmed over, and there are things that you can do in advance to help make them more manageable when they happen.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your neighbors, especially those who live in other apartments or condos in your building, before these kinds of emergencies occur. This way, you’ll already know whom to call if the power goes out and you need to ask someone to check on elderly or disabled people living in your community. You might even be able to offer assistance in an emergency, such as mowing the lawn, pulling weeds or painting walls and fences.
Once the power does go out, it’s a good idea to gather family members into one room and keep doors and windows closed. This will help prevent drafts and cold or hot weather-related health problems. Pay special attention to infants, toddlers and older family members, who may be at risk of heat or cold-related illness.
When the power does come back on, it’s important to turn off your appliances. Unplugging refrigerators and freezers will minimize food spoilage, and turning off lights will avoid wasting energy. If you’re concerned about safety in the dark, consider purchasing battery-operated flashlights or lanterns. However, be sure not to leave these on unattended, as they can pose a fire hazard if left unattended for too long.
It’s also a good idea to keep your cell phone charged up so that you can stay up-to-date on news and emergency information. You might even want to sign up for text alerts from your utility company or local government in order to receive updates as they become available. Also, if you plan to use candles during a power outage, be sure to keep them well-ventilated and never leave them unattended. During a blackout, it’s easy for them to tip over and start a fire.
3. Turn Off Your Appliances
An unexpected power outage can disrupt your daily routine and leave you unsure what to do. But with a few simple steps, you can reduce the impact and make the wait for power to return easier.
As soon as the lights go out, check to see if it’s just your apartment that’s experiencing a problem or if the entire building is affected. If it’s just your suite, flipping the breaker might fix the problem, but if not, you need to take further action.
After you’ve ensured that the problem is not widespread, it’s a good idea to unplug all your appliances and electronics, leaving only a single lamp or light on to indicate when power is back. This helps prevent a power surge that can fry your devices and create a second outage.
You’ll also want to consider your source of light, especially if the outage lasts for a few hours or more. Candles are a popular choice, but they present a fire risk and can raise already-stifling temperatures. Instead, invest in battery-operated flashlights and lanterns and keep a supply of batteries on hand.
While you’re at it, line your door and windowsills with blankets or heavy curtains to keep cool air inside and drafts out. It’s a good idea to do this any time you expect a prolonged outage, but it becomes particularly important during heat waves and winter storms.
If you aren’t sure how to do this on your own, consult with your landlord or a neighbor who knows how to perform basic maintenance. They should be able to walk you through how to reset the electrical panel in your suite in case of a power outage.
During a prolonged outage, it’s not likely that you’ll have access to Netflix or other streaming services. Be prepared by stocking up on board games, cards, books, and other non-electronic entertainment options ahead of time. This way, you’ll be ready for a few days without electricity, whether it’s due to a storm or a temporary power outage. This will help make the wait for your apartment’s power to come back a little more bearable.
4. Have a Plan of Action
The more prepared you are for power outages, the less of a disruption they can be. Start by creating a lights-out kit of items you may need during an outage, including flashlights, a battery-operated radio (plus extra batteries), blankets and bottled water. Consider adding medical supplies and a charged backup charger for your cell phone, as well.
If you live in an apartment building, check in with the management office and find out if they have a plan for when the power goes out. If they do, ask for details so you can stay informed.
Also, be sure to make it clear with your landlord if you’re having trouble with things like hot water. It’s important to get this issue taken care of before it becomes a bigger problem that could impact your safety and health.
If it’s a widespread outage, you may have to wait for a repair crew to get to your apartment. But if you can’t wait, consider using battery-powered fans to cool down your home and draping wet towels around your apartment to provide energy-free cooling. You can also try placing a bowl of ice and water under a fan, as the ice will help cool the air blowing through.
Another crucial thing to do is unplug appliances in your apartment, except for a single lamp or light that you leave on to indicate when the power is back on. This helps prevent a second power surge from damaging your electronics and appliances.
Finally, if the power has gone out for days and you have no other choice, you can try to cool down your apartment by hanging wet towels in the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom. The moisture will absorb heat, lowering the temperature of your apartment.
If you have elderly family members living with you, make a list of emergency contacts to include their addresses and telephone numbers. This way, if they need to travel to other locations during an outage, they’ll have the information they need to get there safely. Additionally, be sure your senior’s medication can last without refrigeration and that they have a supply of extra medicine with them.