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With its stunning beaches, awe-inspiring mountain ranges and vibrant cities, Southern California is one of the most beautiful regions of the country. However, just like the rest of the country, SoCal is subject to natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, thunderstorms and flooding. And while public works departments are quick to react to the damage left in the wake of a calamity, there are instances when power will not be available for extended periods of time. Here are a few tips about what to do during a power outage.


Stay Calm
While being suddenly plunged into darkness can be frightening, it’s important to remain calm during a power outage. Ideally, you should have a blackout preparedness kit that you can access easily. The Red Cross recommends keeping some flashlights, battery powered lanterns, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, a few gallons of water, some nonperishable food and some emergency cash in your emergency kit. It’s also a good idea to keep a smartphone power bank on hand as well. Retrieving your kit will remind you that you’ve prepared for this situation and that while it’s unnerving in the moment, power outages are only temporary.

Contact Your Loved Ones
As blackouts tend to make local and national news, it’s likely that your friends and loved ones will have heard that a power outage has hit your area. If you’re like most people, you own a smartphone such as an iPhone or Android device. With it you can let those closest to you know that you’re okay, via text messages and social media posts. Touching base with your loved ones will help ease your anxiety, and can access California’s Emergency Digital Information Services through your browser to get updates on the power outage. As a prolonged blackout will leave you unable to recharge your phone, only use it intermittently to conserve battery power.

Don’t Light Any Candles
While lighting candles during a power outage was a common practice in earlier eras, it is not recommended today. Although candles can act as a light source during a power outage, they can also pose an extreme fire risk. As you will not be used to navigating your home in darkness, it’s likely that you could accidentally knock a candle onto something flammable. As emergency services will be under heavy demand during a blackout, they might not be able to help you until your home has been significantly damaged. It’s also a good idea to unplug your most valuable electronics during a blackout, as circuit-frying power surges are common when the electrical grid is restored.

Stay Where You Are
As power outages also affect traffic lights, you should try to avoid driving during a blackout. The roadways will be chaotic and the markets might be packed with worried shoppers. Without power, an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours and an unopened freezer will keep food cold for around 48 hours. If you eat your most perishable items right away and freeze the rest, you should have an enough food to last a few days.

Mario McKellop is a freelance writer.