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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Power Outage Preparations

Preparations for a power outage need to cover the disruption caused by both short term and long term power outages. A power outage can be either a major inconvenience or a serious threat to you and your family. Some power outages can be expected, such as those caused by thunderstorms, blizzards, tornados or hurricanes, while other types of power outages due to a failure of infrastructure can happen suddenly and be totally unexpected. A power outage can be as little as a few minutes or as long as several weeks.
Our dependence on the current power system can actually become a life-threatening event in our modern society. The advent of all-electric homes that are totally dependent upon grid power could have devastating effects upon you or your family. If you don’t have some source of power that is independent of grid power, you may find yourself in a position where you have no light and no heat. If a blizzard or thunderstorm were to down power lines, it may take days or even weeks to make repairs. In an era of high-tech gadgets, people can actually die in their own homes due to a power outage if they are not prepared.
There are quite a few things that you will be missing during a power outage. The first one is light. If you don’t like stumbling around in the dark, you will need a good light source. The second thing you will miss is heat. If it’s cold outside or you get wet from a downpour, you will need some way to stay warm or to get dry. You will also need some way to cook meals or be prepared to eat your food cold. You will need a safe and reliable means to cook. You may even need water if the municipal water system malfunctions during the power outage.
Most of the items you will need for a short term power outage are already in your home. Things like extra clothes, blankets, food and water, a good first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and an emergency radio are all items you should already have on hand. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you are ahead of the game but if not you will need an alternate source for heating and cooking. A propane heater or propane-powered camp stove will help to solve this problem. Just remember to always have proper ventilation when using these items. An outdoor grill can be used for cooking but remember why they call it an outdoor grill. Use it outdoors and never use it indoors!
For long term power outages, you may want to consider a small portable generator that can be used to run power to a freezer or refrigerator. Make sure you have plenty of power cords available to run from your generator that will handle the load and extra fuel for the generator. During short term power outages, just refrain from accessing items in your refrigerator or freezer until needed to help them maintain their temperatures. You can also cover them with blankets, quilts, etc. to provide a little extra insulation. You should also make sure you have some type of hand-crank or solar charger for your cell phone or access to a land-line in order to maintain communications. Be prepared to leave if a power outage looks like it is going to become a serious long term event.
Just remember to keep a clear head, remain calm and don’t take unnecessary risks when using your heating or cooking equipment during a power outage.
Staying above the water line!

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