Power outages can be caused by severe weather, accidents at utilities, automobiles hitting power poles, snow and ice accumulating on the lines, high winds, and falling tree limbs snapping overhead wires.
How do power outages affect us?
- No heat, hot water or cooking ability can make it challenging to stay in our homes
- Loss of heat in the winter months can cause pipes to freeze and burst
- Loss of cool air in the summer can be dangerous for vulnerable individuals such as seniors
- Lack of lights or communications can affect our safety
- Food stored in refrigerators and freezers can spoil
- In some cases, water supply can be affected
Tips to help you prepare for a power outage
John A. Weber, principal engineer for Hartford Steam Boiler provides tips on how to get prepared.
Keep emergency supplies
- Keep an adequate supply of food and water on hand (authorities suggest up to 72 hours’ worth) in case you cannot get out in bad weather or if roads are closed.
- Make sure you have the ability to cook food during the outage. Can you cook on your barbeque outside? If you have a generator, is it large enough to operate a portable cooking appliance?
- Keep a battery-powered or crank radio ready in case of a sustained power outage, in order to receive public announcements.
- Always keep a fresh supply of batteries for flashlights or other portable battery-powered lights. Purchase a crank flashlight and keep it within easy reach.
Install an emergency generator
- Consider buying a portable or permanently installed generator for your home. You’ll be able to stay in your home during a sustained outage in extreme conditions.
- Install the proper home electrical equipment to safely connect your generator to the house electrical system. A licensed electrician will be necessary to survey your needs and install this equipment.
- If your generator has a fuel tank, make sure there’s an adequate supply of fresh fuel to last for the duration of the expected power outage. In extreme weather events, the roads may not be passable for several days. Running to the gas station may not be an option.
Get surge protection
- Install a whole-house surge protection device on your main electrical panel. This will help to protect all of your electronic equipment and appliances from surges, which are common before, during and after power outages.
- Use a quality surge protection device at the point-of-use for all of your computer and expensive electronic equipment. The whole-house surge protection device will work with the point-of-use devices to prevent damage.
- Periodically check the dates on batteries. Check that surge protection devices are still actively working. Test your generator equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Make sure your generator still has enough capacity to supply your critical electrical loads.
- Make sure that any fuel used in portable generators is fresh. Use fuel stabilizer additives and do not exceed the useful life indicated on the stabilizer product container.