Safety Tips

General Household

  • Remember that an infant or child can be burned by anything that is hot, including food, bath water, heaters, and stoves or ovens.
  • Make sure that your home is equipped with an operating smoke detector on each floor.
  • Keep matches, lighters, and candles away from children at all times.
  • have a practiced Family Fire Escape Plan.
  • Know how to use the fire extinguisher and where it is located.
  • Teach children to Stop, Drop, and Roll if their clothing catches on fire.
  • If fire occurs, get yourself and the children out and don't return to a burning building.

For Inclement Weather


  • To help prevent food from spoiling, fill used plastic soda bottles with water and put them in the freezer now.
  • During an extended outage, transfer the bottles to your refrigerator.
  • If your power goes out, resist the urge to keep checking inside your freezer or refrigerator. Every time you do, you let warm air in, which reduces the unit's effectiveness.
  • Adding block ice to your refrigerator and dry ice to the freezer will keep them cooler.
  • Keep a supply of canned foods handy in case your power is off for a long time.
  • For recorded information on food safety and power outages, call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's meat and poultry hotline at 1-800-535-4555 or visit their website.
  • Keep your vehicle's fuel tank at least half-full, because many service stations can't pump gas during an outage. Know how to use the manual option on electric garage doors.
  • If your water is pumped electrically and there is enough warning before a major storm, fill your bathtub and spare containers with water in case power goes off. You can flush toilets by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl.
  • If a major storm arrives during cold weather, your house will stay warm for a while--even if the power goes out. Your home will stay warmer if it's well-insulated and free of drafts. Since wood-pellet stoves and many furnaces need electricity to work, they won't operate during an outage unless you have a generator. If you have a fireplace, keep an ample supply of dry firewood in an accessible spot. Burn wood or logs made of newspapers.
  • Do not over-react! Predictions of inclement weather do not always mean that you should overstock items such as milk to the point of exhausting the supply.
  • If a snow storm hits and you are adjacent to a fire hydrant, shoveling it out may save a life - it could be your own. If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, consider lending a hand.

When the power goes off

  • Find out if the power failure is limited to your home. If your neighbor’s power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. When operating a breaker, remember to always face away from the panel.
  • Switch off all appliances and tools as reducing the load on the electric system can restore power more easily. Remember that appliances left on will start up automatically when the power is restored; turning them off will reduce the risk of injury, fire, or damage to sensitive electronic equipment during re-energization.
  • Don’t open your freezer or fridge unless absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 48 hours if the door remains closed.
  • Don’t use a charcoal or other outdoor barbecue indoors; it releases carbon monoxide, an odorless and sometimes deadly poison. Make sure that any backup heat source meets all safety requirements and is approved for indoor use.
  • When operating devices that use liquid fuel, such as portable stoves and lamps, ensure there is adequate ventilation.
  • Use proper candleholders and never leave lit candles unattended, keep them away from children.
  • Leave one light switch on so you know when the power is restored.
  • Home generators can be handy but there are hazards to be aware of. To operate a generator safely, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, connect lights and appliances directly to the generator, not to an existing electrical system. If you need to use extension cords, make sure they are properly rated and approved.
  • Radio and Flashlights; Every home should have battery-powered radios, flashlights and lanterns, as well as fresh batteries. You can buy battery-powered lights that plug into a wall socket and come on automatically during an outage.
  • If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, you could save a life by checking up on them.
  • If power is down for an extended period of time, the City of Newton provides shelters for such occasions. Do not call 911 to determine availability of shelters; instead call the Fire Department at 552-7270 or the Senior Center at 552-7178,

When power is restored

  • Check to make sure your refrigerator and freezer are back on, and whether food can be re-frozen.
  • Give the electrical system a chance to stabilize. Turn on only the most essential appliances and wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting the others.
  • Reset clocks, and check any automatic timers and alarms.
  • Restock your emergency cupboard
back to top