As a new homeowner who has never owned a house, things are a little different if you lose power compared to when you were living in an apartment.

While you may have previously waited until your landlord or the electric company took care of the issue, you have more duties to ensure your home and personal property are secure - not to mention, you have to think about your safety. In the summertime on a clear day or night, a power outage may not be that big of a deal. However, if there's a heavy thunderstorm outside or it's the dead of winter, hanging around outside may not be a viable alternative.

Here are some steps to follow when you lose power in your house:

  • Check your electrical panel. In an apartment, your panel may not have been located inside your unit. As a homeowner, you can go to the box and check the circuit breakers and fuses to see if the outage is merely because of an overloaded fuse or breaker. This can be the case if the outage is limited to certain parts of your house. If no single fuse or breaker appears to be affected, try flipping the main switch to see if power is restored.
  • Contact your electrical company. If you can't get results from your electrical panel and it appears other homes on the block have lost power, phone your energy provider. You may be able to get information on the source and extent of the issue and an estimated time of when power will be restored.
  • Use generators outside. One key difference between being a homeowner and apartment renter is you can momentarily restore power to your home using a generator. These devices are useful if you're dealing with a prolonged outage during a extreme weather event, such as a blizzard, when you need to stay warm. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, do not use generators inside your house. Although it may not be fun to go outside and refill the gas during a snow, rail or hail storm, the device needs proper ventilation for safe use.
  • Don't open your fridge or freezer. Depending on the length of an outage, the condition of your perishable food is going to be one of your biggest concerns. If you were to have recently gone grocery shopping before an outage, for instance, you'd want to ensure your food doesn't spoil and go to waste. While the boredom of sitting in a house without power can be more cause to snack, avoid opening your fridge and freezer as much as possible. These machines can keep your food cold for some time after power is lost as long as the cold air is kept within the unit.
  • Disinfect your tap water. This tip can be particularly helpful in the event of a rainstorm that has led to flash flooding in addition to the power outage. When power is lost, water purification systems may not function properly. To clean your water, simply boil it for one minute. If you're using water for purposes where it won't be put into your body, such as washing dishes, you can add chlorine bleach to disinfect it.

A note about electrical issues

If you're having power troubles in your home that cannot be resolved by adjusting the electrical panel, consider scheduling a property inspection. In-depth electrical issues require the expertise of a professional, which is why properly assessing the power outage is necessary.