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NYC Hazards: Power Outages


Millions of New Yorkers depend on electricity in their daily lives. Prolonged power outages are not only a nuisance — they are also potentially life-threatening and can cause major economic losses.

Power outages occur most often during the summer months, when residents run air conditioners and power usage is at its peak.

While prolonged power disruptions occur infrequently, it's always a good idea to be prepared. In addition to the items you keep in your emergency supply kit, consider storing a battery-operated lantern and freezer packs to help keep food cold during a power outage. See Food Supply Preparation for more information about preparing your food supply for an emergency.


  • First, check to see if a fuse is blown or a circuit breaker has been tripped.
  • Call your power provider immediately to report the outage.
    • Con Edison 24-hour hotline: 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633)
    • National Grid 24-hour hotline: 1-718-643-4050
    • PSEG 24-hour hotline: 1-800-490-0025 
  • Disconnect or turn off all appliances that will go on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, they may overload electrical circuits. 
  • In order to prevent food spoilage, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Move milk, cheese, meats, and other perishables into the freezer compartment. If the freezer is only partially full, keep all items close together and stacked on top of each other.
  • Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, stay away from downed and dangling power lines.
  • If power will be out for an extended amount of time, consider going to a shelter, hotel or friend or relative's home that has power. However, ONLY do so when authorities say it is safe to travel (i.e. in the case of a storm).
  • Check on people with special needs.

Cold-Weather Outage Tips:

  • If you lose power and/or heat in the winter, insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and find a well-insulated room for living while power is out.
  • Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves and layered clothing.
  • Use fireplaces for heat and light, but be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. 
  • Do not burn charcoal indoors and do not use your kitchen gas range to heat rooms as this can lead to fire or a hazardous smoke condition.
  • Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze. 

Hot-Weather Outage Tips:

  • Keep windows in your residence OPEN for proper ventilation.
  • Drink plenty of water

Power Conservation Tips:

During periods of intense electrical usage, such as on hot, humid days, it is important to conserve as much energy as possible to avoid brownouts and other electrical disruptions.

  • Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees — a 75-degree setting uses 18 percent more electricity and a 72-degree setting uses 39 percent more electricity. This setting allows for sufficient cooling while still conserving electric power.
  • Only use an air conditioner when you are home. If you want to cool your room down before you arrive home, set a timer to have it switch on no more than one-half hour before you arrive
  • Turn off all nonessential appliances.
  • Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
  • Only use appliances that have heavy electrical loads (dishwashers, washers, dryers) early in the morning or very late at night.
While diminishing your power usage may seem like an inconvenience, your cooperation will help to ensure that utilities can continue to provide uninterrupted electrical service.

Food Supply Preparation
Learn more information about preparing your food supply for an emergency

Preparedness for Homeowners and Building Owners
Get information on how to prepare buildings for weather emergencies, natural disasters, and power outages

More Resources
Report an Electric Service Problem (Con Edison)
Safety Information for Short-Term Power Outages (Red Cross)

Back to Utility Disruptions homepage