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Illinois Emergency Management shares safety tips amid power outages

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:25 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KWQC) - The Illinois Emergency Management Agency provided safety tips to residents on Wednesday, following Monday’s severe storm that caused power outages across the state.

The agency says power outages are more than just inconvenient; they can also be dangerous.

According to the agency, more than 683,000 customers were without power in Illinois at the height of Monday’s storm and the restoration timeline could take several more days.

“From food poisoning to carbon monoxide dangers, power outages are extremely hazardous if the proper precautions are not followed during a disaster,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau, in a news release. “August is typically one of the hottest months of the year. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Community resiliency is built by neighbors helping neighbors, especially in a time of great need – such as a disaster.”

The agency says another hidden danger associated with power outages lurks in your refrigerator and freezer. During a power outage you should keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain a cold temperature. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours, if it is unopened. A fully stocked freezer will keep food frozen two days, if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer can keep foods frozen about one day.

“Foods such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs, cheese, and other items that require refrigeration should never be consumed if at any point the food was above 40°F for more than two hours,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Foods that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if eaten, even when they are thoroughly cooked.”

IEMA provided the following additional safety tips:

• Only use generators outdoors and away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows.

• Disconnect electronics and equipment to avoid damage from electrical surges. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.

• Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices. If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

You can visit ready.illinois.gov to learn more about staying safe during a power outage.

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