A Guide to Blackouts: Why They Happen and How to Stay Safe

Power outages aren’t just annoying. They can be dangerous if you’re unprepared. Sure, power outages can disrupt your favorite TV show. But they can also cause food to spoil, cut air conditioner during a heat wave and impact on medical equipment. Even if you can’t prevent power outages, you can prepare today before the next one comes.

Hurricane season is here before you know it, but wildfires, storms, and other bad weather events can also cause power outages. Even if you own one generator, portable power station or Solar panels with backup batteryThe following steps can help you survive a power outage with less stress and worry.

Here are additional Ways your phone can help and how keep your pets safe in natural disasters. Besides the Five things that could help you survive a power outage.

Why are there power outages?

Power outages have many causes. In May 2022, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned of an increased risk of power outages across much of western North America. At the time, it looked like the prospect of a hotter-than-normal summer, lower-than-normal hydroelectric reservoirs, and potentially higher-than-normal electricity demands could lead to power outages. With less supply from hydroelectric sources and higher demand for cold storage, supply could potentially have been short-changed.

More common reasons for power outages are weather related. Forest fireshurricanes, thunderstorms etc blizzards can shut down power lines or disrupt power generation, which can result in power outages. As Extreme weather is becoming more intense due to climate changefurther power outages could result.

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If your area experiences a power outage, there are a few things you can do beforehand to prepare.

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Why Prepare for a Power Outage?

Power outages are disruptive, plain and simple. These disruptions can range from something as small as a interrupted TV show to as life-threatening as a temperature-sensitive drug going bad.

Most people grew up watching fire drills at school. Earthquake exercises are expected on the west coast. Tornado drills occur regularly throughout the Midwest and South. While power outages pose less of an immediate threat, there are some steps you can take to ensure you are as safe as possible.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage: A Checklist

The Department of Energy has a list of some things to have on hand to prepare for a power outage. This list is reproduced below with some additions.

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  • flashlights and batteries: The DOE suggests a flashlight in every room, but having plenty of lights and batteries handy seems good enough. Sure, phones have flashlights, but if a power outage lasts for a while, you might want to save that phone charge for other chores, like making calls. B. for communication or entertainment of a child.
  • candles and matches: Candles don’t run out of battery and matches are a reliable fire starter. Be particularly careful with open flames, do not leave unattended and do not use where there is a risk of gas leakage.
  • Alternative lighting: get one Solar lantern that can be charged without plugging in or LED lanterns with long-lasting batteries are two other ways to safely illuminate your home.
  • Your utility company’s emergency number: When you smell a gas leak, you don’t want to be dependent on Wi-Fi to get your utility’s emergency number. Write it down somewhere.
  • backup generator: Generators can be big purchases but can provide backup power. If you get one, make sure it’s securely installed and well away from your windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Ice pack and a cool box: If you have medication that needs to stay cold, make sure you have some ice packs and a cooler handy. Then open it only when you need it. Each time it is opened, warm air enters and shortens the time the interior stays cold. The same goes for your fridge and freezer.
  • Water: When fetching water from a well, you must have water ready. The DOE suggests one gallon per day per person.
  • Eat: Store foods that are non-perishable and do not require cooking. Canned goods would work well here.
  • First aid kit: You can keep your own first aid kit or buy one from the Red Cross.
  • disaster plan: Decide beforehand where you and your family will meet if home is not an option and communication is not possible.
  • Locations of cooling or heating stations: Cities often have cooling stations in summer (or heating stations in winter). If your air conditioner or furnace has failed, make sure you know places to go if it gets dangerously hot or cold.
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What to do after a power failure

After power is restored, the hard part is over, but you must dispose of any spoiled food or medicine. When it comes to food, it’s best to play it safe. Throw things away if they’ve been unrefrigerated (over 40 degrees) for two hours or more, says the Department of Homeland Security. (The department runs the website with tips for preparing for almost any type of disaster.) When it comes to medications, it’s best to consult your doctor.

A power outage inevitably brings some inconveniences, but with a little preparation, it is possible to manage these issues and stay safe.

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