You may not realize how much you depend on electricity until the power goes out. From a power outage lasting a few minutes to one that will last for hours or even days, many things you’ve come to depend on rely on working electricity. However, there are plenty of steps to take to make the experience more bearable.

An essential for any home is an emergency kit. This should be kept in an easy-to-remember location, accessible to everyone in the home. It should include basic necessities such as clean water, non-perishable foods, flashlights with extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, blankets, toiletries, and a first-aid kit. To be extra thorough, keep copies of important documents, emergency contact information, coolers (inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are sufficient) multi-purpose tools, and extra cash.

When the time comes and your power goes out, unplug all unnecessary electronic equipment. When the power comes back on, a spike or a surge can damage the equipment. Leave one light on so you’ll know when the power is back on.

Of course, the food in the refrigerator is always a major concern in the event of a power outage. Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer doors as much as possible. This will keep the food safe to eat for up to 4 hours.

If the outage extends past four hours, it’s time to start eating or throwing away food. The food in the refrigerator goes first, as it will be the first to get to room temperature. The freezer will stay colder much longer — up to 48 hours if the freezer is full and unopened, 24 hours if it is half full. Use your Styrofoam coolers and ice as a last resort if the power outage lasts more than a full day.

Red Cross suggests throwing away food that has been exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Don’t take any chances, and don’t taste-test any food if you are unsure. Some types of bacteria can’t even be destroyed by cooking.

This sounds like quite the ordeal, right? Avoid the problem altogether by calling Blind & Sons and asking about a Whole-Home Generator solution. By monitoring utility voltage 24/7, your generator will get to work the moment your electricity is interrupted. No more worrying about your appliances being damaged by power surges or your food going bad. There are many sizes, so a Whole-Home Generator solution can be tailored to fit your specific needs.

Sources: Red Cross, CDC