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Houston power crisis: How to stay safe during an outage

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

After severe thunderstorms on Thursday evening, over a million power customers were left without electricity in Houston. CenterPoint Energy says the power outage could last for days if not less, according to Fox 26 Houston

It’s important to prepare for the upcoming days, especially if you’re out of electricity. Here are a few tips that you can follow to ensure safety:

Stay home 

The most important advice is to stay home and stay safe. In a first-ever joint press conference, Houston Mayor John Whitmire and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged everyone to avoid Downtown. 

There could also be fallen power lines or shattered glasses on the road after the storm that could become life threatening. 

It’s also important to remember the weather can change anytime so you need to be closer to essential resources like non-perishable food, water, medicine and warm clothes. 

Be aware of your surroundings

Stay away from any downed power lines and report them to CenterPoint Energy as soon as possible at  (713) 207-222. 

Be attentive if you smell natural gas inside your homes. Report to CenterPoint Energy at 612-372-5050 or 800-296-9815 and get outside of the house.

Make sure to identify nearby evacuation routes and emergency shelters in extreme cases of evacuation. Stay vigilant and try to help others in need as well. 

Keep your cars fueled and if you’re stuck in your vehicles, evacuate as soon as possible and take shelter away from the vehicle. 

Use generators carefully 

Generators should never be used inside to avoid a carbon monoxide build up, which can be deadly. They should only be used in well ventilated areas. 

Be mindful of not attaching the generators directly to your home’s electrical system because it can be dangerous for the workers, according to a post on X by CenterPoint Energy.

Don’t overload the generator by connecting too many appliances or devices to avoid the risk of overheating or fire.

Have an emergency kit

It is highly encouraged to have an emergency kit handy in situations like these. It should include essential supplies like water, non-perishable food items, medications, a first aid kit, flashlights and important documents. 

Make sure to keep extra batteries and if you don’t have portable flashlights, you can use your mobile phones. 

Turn off appliances

Turn off and unplug all electronics to prevent possibilities of a short circuit or a fire hazard. You can leave one light turned on to indicate when the power get restored. 

Once the power restores, there could be a possibility of sudden power surges or spikes. This can damage electronic devices and unplugging devices prevents this from happening. 

Stay dry, hydrated and safe

Ensure that you’re staying warm by using dry clothes, blankets and other forms of layering. To avoid a possible carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t use gas ovens or stovetops for heat.

Make sure you are staying hydrated and have an adequate supply of clean drinking water. Fill containers with clean water for sanitation purposes. 

Be cautious with food and discard any perishable food items to avoid food poisoning. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain cold temperatures. 

A closed refrigerator can hold food for approximately four hours and up to 48 hours in a closed freezer. 

Stay safe Coogs! 

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