Who to Contact When the Power Goes Out in Your Apartment

Power outages always seem to occur at the most inconvenient times: on the hottest summer night, in the dead of winter, or right in the middle of dinner. One moment, your television is blaring, the air conditioning is running at full blast, and you’re hard at work on your computer. Then, suddenly, silence and darkness surround you. Being prepared for a power loss is not difficult. The problem is that most of us don’t think about it until we are already in the dark. To avoid fumbling around your apartment in search of supplies, it’s a good idea to keep a few essential items handy in case of a blackout. Your emergency kit should include a working flashlight (or multiple flashlights if your apartment is large), candles, matches, a battery-operated radio, and the contact information for the on-call technician and power company. More importantly, remember the designated storage location for these items and always put them back in the same place after use. Even with the necessary tools at your disposal during a power failure, it can still be confusing to know where to start.

Tips for Dealing with a Power Failure

  1. Check your circuit breaker or fuse box. If you have recently moved into a new apartment or this is your first time living on your own, you may not be familiar with the location of the circuit breakers or fuse box. It’s best to familiarize yourself with their whereabouts while you still have power. In the event of a power outage, grab your trusty flashlight and open the small door that protects the circuit breaker. Modern circuit breakers usually have a series of small windows, and when a switch has been tripped, at least one window will turn orange. Fortunately, this situation is easily resolved. Simply flip the switch located beneath the orange window, and power should be restored.

  2. Check with your neighbors. If you have checked your circuit breaker and no switches are tripped, the issue may extend beyond your apartment. Check the hallways and consult your neighbors to see if they are experiencing a power outage as well. If it appears that the power outage is affecting the entire building, contact the power company to report the problem. Do not assume that the power company is aware of the electricity loss; it may only be affecting your specific building.

  3. Unplug all electronic devices. If the power loss is a result of a problem with your power company, turn off or unplug electronic equipment such as stereos, televisions, air conditioners, and refrigerators. When the power eventually returns, you’ll want to reduce the initial load on the system and protect your appliances from power surges. Keep one lamp on so that you can determine when the power is restored.

  4. Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer. Losing power is already unpleasant enough; you don’t want to lose all your perishable food as well. Both the refrigerator and freezer are insulated, so if you keep the doors closed, food can stay cold for at least two hours. Each time you open the doors, the temperature inside the unit will rise, so try to keep them closed as much as possible. If the freezer is half full, food should remain frozen for 24 hours. If it is completely full, it can keep food safely frozen for 48 hours. The refrigerator presents a greater challenge. If the power remains out for more than two hours, pack perishable items like milk and dairy products in ice and place them in a cooler. If you have a digital thermometer, check the temperature of any food before consuming it. Refrigerated food should not be eaten if the temperature exceeds 40 degrees.

  5. Avoid using barbecues, portable generators, or kerosene heaters indoors. Power outages during winter can be particularly challenging. Not only do you have to contend with darkness, but the temperature drops rapidly as well. If your power remains out for an extended period, you may be tempted to use alternate sources of heat. However, under no circumstances should you use charcoal grills, propane or kerosene heaters, or portable generators inside your apartment. These can produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible gas that can be lethal, especially in poorly ventilated areas. Instead, keep yourself warm with blankets, share body heat with others, or use hot-water bottles. Since your hot water supply will be limited, try to conserve its use. A power outage doesn’t have to be a stressful experience if you educate yourself on what to do while the lights are still on. Invest in an inexpensive radio, flashlight, and a few candles now to spare yourself from bruised knees and toppled furniture. If you’re unsure about how to check the circuit breaker, don’t hesitate to ask a more experienced friend or your building’s maintenance person for assistance. If the power outage extends to your entire building or neighborhood, consider this as an opportunity to connect with your fellow apartment dwellers. You can initiate conversations with your downstairs neighbor, whom you’ve been meaning to get to know better, by commiserating over the unfortunate blackout.

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Remember, being prepared for a power outage is crucial, and knowing who to call and what to do can make all the difference. For more valuable information, you can visit 5 WS, your go-to resource for answers to all your questions. Stay safe and be ready!

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