Prepare and Respond - Electrical Outages

Be Prepared If You Lose Electrical Power In The Home

  • Cordless phones do not work during power outages. Cell phones or corded phones may.
  • Post emergency numbers near the phone and keep a copy in your emergency kit.
  • If anyone in the household depends on electrical medical equipment, call your electric supplier's 24-hour service center and have it noted on your account.

Electric Energy Supplier Contact Information

  • If an outage occurs, call you electrical supplier promptly.  Every call helps determine the location and extent of an outage.  Let them know of any downed lines, damaged poles, etc.
  • If you find a downed power line avoid the area and keep children and pets a safe distance away from the area - assume all downed power lines are live.
  • During weather-related outages, turn off or unplug as many appliances as possible.  This will help prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored.  When power is restored, turn them on one at a time.
  • Avoid using candles after severe weather damage or power outages - the risk of fire and explosion is too great.
  • Consider having a battery back-up or portable power source to keep your sump pump running if flooding is occurring.Portable Generator Use
  • Portable generators are an excellent source of backup power if operated safely.  Safely store fuel outside, never indoors, and not in the garage.  Operate generators outside and only use fresh gasoline because old gasoline may ignite.  Plug appliances directly into the generator and never attach generators to the facility current unless your home has been pre-wired by a professional to allow for adaptaion of generator power.
  • Automatic garage door openers won't work during an outage. Be sure you know how to operate the door manually.


Food Safety During a Power Outage

If energy shortages or severe weather shut off your electric power try to keep a cool head--but don’t peek in your refrigerator.  Prevent food spoilage by keeping the freezer or refrigerator closed.



Foods can stay cold and safe for two days in a fully packed and closed freezer and safe for one day in a half-full freezer.  Don’t open the freezer until power is restored.  If food items have ice crystals throughout and feel cold to the touch, they can be refrozen.  But if in doubt, throw it out.  Illness-causing food bacteria can grow quickly and can’t always be detected by taste or smell.



When the power comes back on, put a thermometer inside the refrigerator.  If it reads higher than 41 degrees F, discard all perishable foods, such as:  raw or cooked meat or seafood; milk and dairy products;  cooked pasta and pasta salads;  fresh eggs and egg substitutes;  meat-topped pizza and lunch meats;  casseroles and soups;  mayonnaise and tartar sauce; and cream-filled pastries.  Other items such as butter, ketchup, jelly, hard cheeses, and bread and rolls are usually safe if power is restored within two days.


Don’t risk your health with unsafe food.  For answers to specific questions, call the Winnebago County Health Department at 920-232-3000.


Electric Energy Suppliers:
  • Wisconsin Public Service - 800-450-7240
  • WE Energies  - 800-662-4797
  • Alliant Energies - 800-255-4268
  • Diggers Hotline - 8-1-1


Additional Links

Wisconsin Disaster Health - DHS

Emergency Preparedness & Response - Power Outage - CDC