Power Outage


Electrical power can go out for any number of reasons. An unexpected power outage can have unforeseen consequences. Without electricity you may experience a shortage of food and clean water, as well as extreme temperatures. You should be prepared to manage without power for an extended period of time.



Power Outage Terminology

Rolling blackouts

  • Rolling blackouts, or temporary power shortages, may happen from time to time when power companies turn the power off in certain areas to curb usage.

  • Rolling blackouts occur during peak seasons and hours of energy consumption, usually in the summer, 4–7 p.m.

Summer blackouts

  • Extreme heat is usually the cause of summer blackouts.

Space weather

  • Space weather, sometimes called solar storms, can produce electromagnetic fields that cause extreme currents (power surges) in wires, disrupting power lines, and even causing widespread blackouts.



Prep Steps

  • Verify and update official contact information in the Marine Corps Enterprise Mass Notification System (eMNS), and register all cell phones, home phone, email addresses, etc. in eMNS. 

  • Make a family emergency plan.

  • Back up computer files regularly.

  • Keep your car tank full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

  • Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use an electronic garage door opener to enter your home.

  • Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.

  • Build an emergency kit.



What to do if there is a Power Outage

  • Use flashlights rather than candles for light.

  • Turn off the electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.

  • Eliminate unnecessary travel.

  • Remember that ATMs and elevators may not work.

  • Drink and use bottled, boiled, or treated water.

  • Make sure your pets have plenty of fresh, cool water.

  • Try not to open the freezer or refrigerator often. A full freezer should keep food for 48 hours.

  • Pack dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, and other items that can quickly spoil in a cooler surrounded by ice to extend their usability.

  • Throw out any foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and left­overs) that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to touch.


If the power goes out in extreme heat:
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water every 15–20 minutes.

  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

  • Keep the air circulating by opening doors and windows.

  • Be aware of the possibility for a heat stroke.


If the power goes out in extreme cold: 
  • Wear several layers of warm clothing.

  • Keep moving to stay warm.

  • Be aware of the possibility for hypothermia, which hap­pens when one’s body temperature falls below 95˚F.


Set your own course through any hazard: stay informed, make a plan, build a kit. Live Ready Marine Corps.