What do Super Storm Sandy, the Super Bowl and the space shuttle Endeavour have in common? All were linked to recent power outages in the U.S.

In fact, in 2012, 25 million people were affected by power outages, averaging 154 minutes each time.

We've all been conditioned to keep candles and flashlights on-hand to prepare for unexpected downtime. (Anyone up for a game of flashlight tag?)

But, it's just as important to plan for home security during power outages, as the darkness provides cover for burglars and other unexpected risks. Keep your home and family safe with these tips.

Buy a System with Battery Backup

When evaluating home security systems, select one that has a backup battery. In the event of a power outage, the system will simply switch over to battery mode until electricity kicks back in, keeping it fully operational. Then, once the power is restored, your system will recharge and function as usual.

Keep in mind though that backup batteries won't work forever; most will run out of juice in 24 hours. Ask your provider what the expected battery life is for your system, and plan accordingly. You may want to purchase an additional battery to have around the house should you experience a prolonged outage.

Note: With the loss and gain of power, some systems may start beeping. If this happens, check out these troubleshooting tips.

In addition, select an alarm system that uses backup cellular, radio or Internet service to ensure uninterrupted monitoring in the event of a phone line outage.

Invest in a Reliable Monitoring Service

The best home security monitoring services will be able to guarantee 24/7 uptime, even in the event of a power outage. This means that you'll continue to receive reliable and responsive monitoring to protect your home from intrusion, theft and vandalism.

In addition to backups built into your alarm system, this often requires multiple monitoring centers. That way, if power goes down in one, the others are able to respond to signals sent. One way to gauge the safety and reliability of your monitoring service is to find out if they are UL approved.

Be Careful How You Heat Your Home

During a power outage, you may be tempted to try unconventional measures to heat your home, such as grills, stoves and generators. However, faulty or improper use of heating appliances can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. For safe ways to heat your home, read Emergency Heating: How to Keep Warm in a Power Outage.

To keep your family healthy, it's also a good idea to have CO detectors throughout your home to alert you if high concentrations of the gas are present.

Image Source: Andy Hay