Back to Blog

Be Ready When the Lights Go Out

Published on Aug. 25, 2021

At times, the song “Stormy Weather” certainly could be appropriate background music as we navigate the four seasons in Michigan.

Strong thunderstorms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes can appear in late spring throughout the summer. In fall, soaking rains, high winds, and even dicey snow squalls have made an appearance. And of course, winter can bring some challenging snow storms, icing, occasional blizzard conditions, and prolonged cold.

That’s why it is important that area residents have a backup plan for when the lights go out to ensure the safety of family members, as well as to meet family needs until power can be restored.

For those who live alone, make sure you have a list of contact numbers of family or friends to reach out to if a power outage become extended and you have no means to leave. Everyone should consider what needs they would have should the power go out. Then think about what alternatives you can put into place to meet those needs.

Common recommendations include:

  • Prior to known weather events, ensure cell phones are fully charged
  • Keep flashlights and batteries for everyone in the home
  • Maintain at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water
  • Know and plan for personal and medical electric needs. For some, it might be important to have a conversation with your primary care provider or medical device provider about the steps to ensure medications and medical devices remain viable. Always have at least a three-day supply of medications on hand
  • If you do not have a generator, consider purchasing one – especially if you have a medical device dependent on electricity
  • Have a device to cook on without need for electricity
  • Be able to purify water
  • Buy a food thermometer
  • Plan an evacuation route should you need to leave your home; keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full

During a power outage:

  • Eat foods that are fresh and perishable first
  • Limit the times you open your refrigerator or freezer; this will help preserve cool temperatures
  • If food is 40 degrees or above – especially dairy or meat – then do not eat it
  • Only use a generator outdoors, away from windows or doors that would allow exhaust to seep into the house
  • Do not use outdoor stoves inside for cooking or heating
  • Do not use an indoor gas stove to heat your home
  • Evacuate if your environment is unsafe – such as too hot or too cold, or you need power for a medical device; often, communities will open shelters during long-term power loss

Additionally, for those who work, thought should be given to alternative travel plans to the job location should roads become blocked by fallen trees, etc.

More helpful information on disaster planning can be found at