Coping with Outages: Advice from an Emergency Electrician
Unfortunately power outages are a fact of life that we all have to cope with from time to time. Power companies occasionally need to schedule an outage to perform essential maintenance on their systems and mother nature can bring down power lines and causes prolonged outages when she has a mind to. Below, an Emergency Electrician set out several simple steps you can take to minimize the effects of an outage and to protect your home from damage.
Before an outage
Plan ahead by making sure you have basic supplies easily accessible.
You should have:
Keep these items together in an ‘emergency’ box or bag and make sure everyone in your household knows where it is. It is a good idea to also have a deck of cards or a board game so that you can keep the kids entertained. Make sure you know how to open your garage door manually as access to your vehicle may be required.
Consider investing in a generator. Portable generators which run on propane or gas have to be used out of doors and switched on manually when needed. Alternatively, you can have a standby generator wired into your home’s electrical panel which automatically switches on when the normal power supply fails.
Fill empty spaces in your refrigerator and freezer with containers of water as they will help to keep you food fresh. Leave an inch or two at the top empty to allow for the expansion of water as it freezes.
During an outage
Gather everyone together and make sure they are all safe. Then switch off and unplug all you electrical equipment such as the TV, computer and games console that could be damaged by surges when the power is restored. Also switch off all lights that were on when the power went out, except for one; use that one to signal when the power is returned. Check on your neighbors to see whether they are OK.
Get your portable generator up and running but remember that it should only be used out of doors and at least 10 feet away from your home to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning. You must use cords rated for outdoor use to run from the generator into your home. Do not connect your generator to your electricity supply as this may sent power back into the grid and cause problems for the people who are trying to fix the problem.
Try not to open your refrigerator and freezer. Food will stay fresh in an unopened refrigerator for about four hours and 24 hours in the freezer but this time is reduced when warmer air is allowed in by opening the door.
After an outage
Don’t rush to turn everything back on all at once. It is common for the power to cycle on and off briefly before a normal service is resumed.
Throw out any food that has been subjected to a temperature of 40°F for more than two hours. Pay particular attention to meat, fish and eggs and if you are in any doubt, throw it away.
Replenish the supplies that you have used from your emergency kit so you are ready for the next outage.
If your home or possessions suffer any damage from an outage, call your emergency electrician right away and make sure any necessary repairs are carried out safely.