IEMA provides safety tips for storm survivors during extended power outages


More than 683,000 households in Illinois suffered power loss in Monday’s storms

information provided by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 13, 2020) – At the height of Monday’s storm, more than 683,000 customers were without power in Illinois. Due to the destructive straight-line winds associated with this storm, power lines, utility poles, substations, and towers were damaged or destroyed, resulting in extensive repairs that will extend the restoration timeline several more days.

“From food poisoning to carbon monoxide dangers, power outages are extremely hazardous if the proper precautions are not followed during a disaster,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “August is typically one of the hottest months of the year. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Community resiliency is built by neighbors helping neighbors, especially in a time of great need—such as a disaster.”

Another hidden danger associated with power outages is food-related. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A fully stocked freezer will keep food frozen two days if the door remains closed. A half-full freezer can keep foods frozen about one day.

“Foods such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs, cheese, and other items that require refrigeration should never be consumed if at any point the food was above 40°F for more than two hours,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Foods that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if eaten, even when they are thoroughly cooked.”

Other important safety tips include:

  • Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should be used only outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Disconnect electronics and equipment to avoid damage from electrical surges. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices. If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

To learn more about staying safe during a power outage, visit