Cooking When the Power Goes Off after a Disaster


 After a storm has knocked out electricity or gas lines, cooking meals can be a problem and can be hazardous if a few basic rules are not followed.


  • Charcoal or gas grills are the most obvious alternative sources of heat for cooking. NEVER USE THEM INDOORS. In doing so you risk both asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of starting a fire that could destroy your home.
  • Likewise, camp stoves that use gasoline or solid fuel should always be used outdoors.
  • Small electrical appliances can be used to prepare meals if you have access to an electrical generator.
  • Wood can be used for cooking in many situations. You can cook in a 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.
  • If you're cooking on a wood stove, make sure the stove pipe has not been damaged.
  • If you have to build a fire outside, build it away from buildings, never in a carport. Sparks can easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire.
  • Never use gasoline to get a wood or charcoal fire started.
  • Make sure any fire is well-contained. 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. 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.

Publication #: 490-307

Based on information developed by Clemson Cooperative Extension following Hurricane Hugo. Revised for Virginia audiences by Virginia Cooperative Extension.

For more information, contact your local office of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More