When this happens, there may be a loss of power in your house only, or it may affect the general area. A look out the window to see if neighbors have lost power or a call will tell.
If the problem is just yours, you can try to flip the circuit breaker or replace a fuse as detailed in Chapter 1. If the problem is more generalized, you should call the utility company.
It's an excellent idea to have on hand candles, flashlights, or other light sources. If you live in an area subject to severe storms, you should also have on hand an emergency food and water supply, extra medicine, first-aid supplies, and extra blankets or sleeping bags, as well as fire-fighting equipment. A gasoperated generator can also be an excellent idea; it can supply more than ample power.
When the lights go out, you should flip off most light switches, as well as the furnace switch; also unplug the freezer and refrigerator. When the power goes on again it can suck (well, not literally) power through the appliances and damage them.
Also, keep the freezer door closed as much as possible to keep food frozen as long as possible. Incidentally, partially thawed food can only be safely refrozen if it contains ice crystals. Don't try to refreeze spoiled food.
If you are forced to sleep in a cold house, it's best to dress in warm but loose clothing, including a hat. From one-half to three-quarters of all body heat is lost through the head.
Ideally, you would have some sort of emergency heating equipment on hand that doesn't depend on electricity, such as a kerosene heater. However, you must take care when using such equipment; the gases emitted by them are toxic and must be vented to the outdoors.