American Red Cross provides tips for power outages

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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NASHVILLE — Power outages can happen during any season, but it seems that this spring, Tennesseans have had their fair share of outages. High winds have plagued the state since early March with tornadoes, derechos and severe thunderstorms leaving power lines down and outages statewide.
“It is always important to be prepared before a storm hits and takes out power,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive director for the American Red Cross of the Tennessee Region. “Beyond being inconvenient, an outage can lead to dangers, including home fires, as we have seen.”
There are steps the American Red Cross suggests citizens take to ensure safety following an outage:
Staying Safe Indoors
  • Use flashlights in the dark, not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely. You can find out more about generator safety at
Food Safety
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer.
  • Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and always keep it covered.
Electrical Equipment
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
Tennesseans have experienced a very active spring storm season in 2020. The American Red Cross has been responding to statewide emergencies that have left hundreds of thousands without power and thousands homeless since March 3. In the first five months of 2020, the Red Cross has responded to several tornadoes in middle Tennessee, tornadoes in April in both Hamilton and Bradley counties, and in May a derecho and high wind storms throughout Tennessee.
Stay safe and be prepared with the free Red Cross Emergency App. Receive weather alerts and information about what to do before, during and after severe weather. You can easily toggle between English and Spanish. Search “American Red Cross” in your app store or visit to download today.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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