Water Pollution Control

How to Cook When the Power Goes Off

After a storm has knocked out electricity and/or gas lines, cooking meals can be a problem and even hazardous. Some basic rules should be followed.


  • Charcoal or gas grills are the most obvious alternative sources of heat for cooking. NEVER USE THEM INDOORS. You risk both asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of starting a fire. Never use gasoline to get a charcoal fire started.

  • Likewise, camp stoves that use gasoline or solid fuel should only be used outdoors. Small electrical appliances could be used to prepare meals if you have access to an electrical generator. For more information on the safe operation of a generator, click here.

  • Wood can be used for cooking in many situations. You can cook in the fireplace if the chimney is sound. Don't start a fire in a fireplace that has a broken chimney. Be sure the damper is open. Never use gasoline to get a wood fire started.

  • If you are cooking on a wood stove, make sure the stove pipe is not damaged.

  • If you build a fire outside, build it away from buildings, never in the garage or carport. Sparks can easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire.

  • Make sure any fire is well-contained and well guarded. A metal drum or stones around the fire bed are good precautions. A charcoal grill is a good place in which to build a wood fire. According to the International Fire Code which Independence adopted in May of 2001, charcoal grills, other open-flame cooking devices, and LP gas-fueled cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction on balconies of apartment complexes. Always be sure to put out any fire when you are through with it.

  • When cooking is not possible, many canned foods can be eaten cold. See, Playing it safe with food.

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