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The City of New Orleans

Plan for Emergencies


Power Outage

Power outages can happen for many reasons, including severe weather or infrastructure failure. They can last for a few minutes or for days. During power outages, it's important to use generators safely.

Prepare for a power outage

  • Create a Smart911 profile if you need power for medical equipment.
  • Turn your fridge to its lowest temperature.
  • Charge electronic devices.
  • Preserve cell phone battery life.

During a power outage

Practice fire safety

  • Use flashlights, not candles.
  • Keep generators outside and away from your home.
  • Stay away from low-hanging or downed power lines.

Stay comfortable

  • Stay cool in extreme heat: drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay warm in cold weather: wear warm clothes.
  • Go to a public place like a library, recreation center, or mall for temporary relief.

Preserve devices and appliances

  • Preserve cell phone battery life. Texting saves battery life compared to calling.
  • Keep fridge doors closed. Most refrigerated food will keep in a closed refrigerator for several hours.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics.

Stay safe on the road

  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • If a traffic light is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.

Power up SAFELY with generators

If using a generator during a power outage, follow the 20-20-20 rule:

  • Keep generators 20 feet away from the house, doors, & windows.
  • Power off & allow a 20-minute cooldown before refueling.
  • Purchase a battery operated $20 alarm to detect carbon monoxide.

More generator safety tips:

  • Keep dry: Do not use generators in wet conditions.
  • Avoid unsafe plugins: Never plug a generator into wall outlets to avoid feedback or electrocution.
  • Aim exhaust away: Aim generator exhaust away from buildings, open windows, and vents.
  • Maintain clearance: Maintain at least 5 feet of clearance above the generator.

Generator exhaust in a poorly-ventilated area can cause carbon monoxide poisoning

Portable generators release exhaust that contains carbon monoxide (CO), an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly. That's why it's important to use generators in a well-ventilated area.

Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, immediately relocate all people outdoors and call 9-1-1. 

After a power outage

Get rid of food that may have spoiled: when in doubt, throw it out!