As emergency shelters close, Red Cross and Rescue Squad give tips for power outages

Published: Mar. 28, 2018 at 9:58 PM EDT
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More than 8,000 customers were still without power Wednesday, according to Appalachian Power's latest numbers.

The American Red Cross said they closed the emergency shelters in Pulaski and Giles Counties as the number of people coming for help had dwindled down so much. But the organization says they are still available to help.

The American Red Cross said anyone who is still without power can give them a call now that the shelters are closed.

Executive Director of the Roanoke and New River Valley chapter Jackie Grant said, “We assist people to work through that community and find the resources that are available within their own community and through their elected officials.”

Local rescue squads have some important advice for people staying at home without power. Especially for anyone running a mobile generator.

Deputy Chief of Field Operations for Blacksburg Rescue Devon Frazier said, “Just make sure that you're not running it indoors, not inside the home or inside a garage or anything. Make sure that you install Carbon Monoxide alarms that will give you early warning.”

But if there isn't a generator, be careful about other mobile ways to bring heat into the home.

“Don't have any, certainly unattended but, open flames during a power outage because you already have limited visibility,” Frazier said. “Charcoal grills and other stuff like that, burning that indoors also gives off Carbon Monoxide.”

Deputy Chief Frazier also advises unplugging everything in the house, because once the power comes back on there can be a surge.

Once the lights are back on, there are things that need to be done right away.

“Restock your batteries for your flashlights, canned foods, other medical supplies, stuff like that,” she said.

Along with that, food safety is maybe the most important. A refrigerator can only keep food safe for four hours and a fully stocked freezer for just 48 hours, if it remained closed. So if in doubt, the rescue squad says throw it out.

And both the Red Cross and Rescue Squad said this storm is proof that power outages can surprise people and last for several days. So when power's back on, it's time to get that emergency kit ready for the next one.

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