Power outages are commonly caused by severe weather and are sometimes intentionally triggered.
When an outage is caused by severe weather like lightning and high winds, those affected must wait for damages to be fixed and power to be restored. If you lose power while there is no severe weather, you may be experiencing a rolling blackout.
Rolling blackouts occur when the power demand becomes much higher than the supply, putting the power grid at risk of serious damage. If this equipment overloads, the damage could cause a complete shutdown of the grid leaving everyone without power. To prevent this, utility companies initiate a series of temporary power shutdowns by carefully cutting power to varying parts of a region for a few hours at a time. This allows the available energy supply to be shared among customers while also protecting sensitive sites, like hospitals, from power loss.
Whatever the reason, power outages can affect thousands – even millions – of people over an extended period.
Here are some tips to help you be prepared and be a bit more immune to some of the problems associated with power loss.
- Keep Cash on Hand and Cars Fueled
When the power goes out so do credit card readers and gas pumps. For extended power loss periods, keep cash on hand for food and other supplies you may need, and keep your car fueled in the event you need to relocate.
- Stock Up on Water
Always store at least three days' supply of water in your home (especially if your home is on a well). A good rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per person per day.
- Keep Essential Electronics on Hand
Have a flashlight for each person in your house and plenty of extra batteries.
Pro Tip: Keep a portable phone charger charged and ready to go.
- Consider What's in Your Fridge
Avoid opening refrigerator and freezer doors to keep your food as fresh as possible. Once power is restored, carefully check your food for signs of spoilage before eating. When in doubt, throw it out!
Pro Tip: Move commonly used items stored in the fridge to a cooler with ice for easy access.
- Stay in Contact and Up To Date
Your cell phone can be your lifeline in the event of an emergency, so limit phone calls and other related use to preserve battery life. Write down important and emergency contacts (doctors, family, friends, etc.) in the event your cell phone dies so you can reach them from another device.
Pro Tip: Use a battery-powered radio for updates.
Additional Safety Tips:
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, electronics, and equipment (like HVAC) that were in use when the power went out. Power may momentarily come back on in “surges” that can damage electronics and motors in appliances.
- Never run a generator inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to the outlets on the generator unless your electrical panel is equipped with a properly installed transfer switch.
- Never use candles as a light source during a power outage, they pose an extreme risk for fire.
- Know where the manual release lever of your garage opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift them.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
- If you lose power during the summer:
- Keep your blinds closed and limit going in and out of your home as much as possible to keep the door closed (and keep the warm air out).
- If your home starts to warm and becomes uncomfortable, hang a damp sheet in front of an open window to help cool the interior.
- If you lose power during the winter:
- Put on layers of warm clothing to keep warm.
- Never burn charcoal indoors or use your gas oven as a source for heating.
- Remember, safety and health are the most important factors, if the power is out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location that has power and proper heating and cooling that may be open in your community.
Lenny Jesuele is a construction specialist with a 25+ year record of achievement and success managing residential projects up to and over $1MM and commercial projects up to $10+MM. He is dedicated to delivering exceptional customer service and delivering quality projects as Construction Project Manager at Scioto Properties.