Have your Disaster Supplies, Emergency Kits and First Aid Kits handy!
Blackouts can be rolling Blackouts or Power Outages.
Blackouts happen for a variety of reasons.
They occur in Natural Disasters, when a power grid is overloaded, when there is trouble at the generation plants or transformer stations, when a power pole is knocked over, to name a few. Even buried cable lines are at risk.
During your "Have a Plan" family meeting, discuss what you might do if there was suddenly no power.
Preparing Before a BlackoutFlashlights -
Have either a battery operated or crank type of flashlight. You might have for for every member of the family, or one in every room. If you have the battery operated type, be sure to have extra batteries on hand.
Although candles may be the "romantic" in the dark, do not use candles in a blackout. Candles can be knocked over and start a fire. The spark from a candle could ignite any leaking gas and explode or cause a fire.
Potable Radio or Portable Television
Use a battery operated radio or television to find out information about the blackout from news reports. Do not call 9-1-1 for information. (See Call 9-1-1 ) There are also crank operated radios on the market.
Batteries of various sizes
Have a good supply of batteries. Check what sizes you need for the equipment you have, and stock up. Check the expiration date on the battery packaging.
If you have your telephone service through your cable company or computer line, you phone will not work in a power outage. Neither will a cordless phone. Have a Corded Phone and a Hard Wired Phone Line in case of a Disaster or Emergency situation. (see Call 9-1-1 for more information). Cell phones may work, but if the battery runs down, you have no service.
If you have extra room in your refrigerator or freezer, fill a plastic container with water, and leave it there. Frozen water expands, so leave some room at the top. Should the power stay out for awhile, the cold or frozen water will help keep food cold.
If any family member is on medication that requires refrigeration, the cold or frozen water should keep the medication safe for several hours. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Electric Medical Equipment
If you or a family member uses an electric wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery which is kept charged. Consider a manual wheelchair to use as a back up.
Check with your doctor if you have other electrical life-support systems to see if there are other alternatives in a Disaster or Emergency Blackout situation.
In many areas where Rolling Blackouts are used to save energy, utility companies keep a record of residence on power dependent needs. Contact your Utility Company, explain your circumstances, and find out what alternatives they can offer.
Elevators will not be working, so if you live in a building with an elevator, consider any alternative exits.
Blind and Deaf Family Members
For the blind or visually impaired, consider a battery operated talking clock, with extra batteries, or a large print clock. If you have a TTY system, check to see if there is a battery backup available.
For the deaf or hearing impaired, consider a battery operated television set. Emergency broadcasts often have open captioning. Check with your local stations to see if they offer American Sign translation in emergency situations.
Your Garage and Vehicles
In a power outage, automatic garage doors will not operate. Find the manual release, and practice using it. If you have access only through the garage door, consider adding another way in. If this is not possible, discuss what options you have, and put this in your Disaster Plan.
Keep your vehicle gas tanks at half full or more. Gas station pumps will not work without electrical power.
Avoid any unnecessary diving. Traffic signals will be out, increasing accidents and congestion.
Keep some extra cash at home. You should have some change and small bills. ATM machines and debit or credit cards will not work without electrical power.
Use a high quality surge protector with your computer. Regularly back up your files and operating systems. Turn off your computer, monitor, copier, printer, scanner and whatever else you have when not in use. In the event of a blackout, everything is already shut down safely.
If you use your computer for a home based business, check with your local computer dealer about installing a UPS (uninterpretable power supply). They can provide you information on installation and cost.
Use your electricity wisely. This can help your power company avoid rolling blackout, and also save you money.
NEVER use a generator inside. The fumes can be deadly. (see Generators)
DO NOT connect the generator to your home's electrical system.
Connect what you want the generator to run directly into it.
During a Blackout or Power Outage
► Turn off all devices being used at the time, such as computers, televisions, washer and dryer, and lamps. When the power is restored,
a power surge can damage such equipment.
► Leave on one light so you know when power is restored. Then, turn back on only the appliances you need. Everyone affected by the blackout will be turning appliances back on. There will be surges and spikes. By turning equipment back on in stages, you can help minimize the problem.
► Listen to the radio or television for updates. Do not call 9-1-1 for information. (See Call 9-1-1)
► Avoid opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. If the blackout is going to continue, consider using a cooler of some sort. Pull out the food (or medications) you will need for the next few hours and put it in the cooler, packed with ice or cold packs. Leave the chilled/frozen water bottle(s) in the refrigerator/freezer (see above - Freezing Water) to keep the rest of the food cold. Try to use foods from the cupboard first. Have a manual can opener. The electric can opener will not work.
► Remember your pets. Have plenty of fresh cool water and food for them. They may become stressed. If you Stay Calm, they will pick up your energy and cope with the situation a bit better. You can have "practice" blackouts for you and your family, and see how the animals cope.
► Weather Outside During a Blackout
If it is hot outside, you can stay cooler following a few simple steps. Move to the lowest level of your home. Remember, hot air rises. Keep the windows and doors closed to keep the cooler air in and the hot air out. Wear light weight clothing. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Listen to the radio to see if a "cooling center" will open in your community. (see "Heat waves" for more information)
If it is cold outside, you can stay warmer following a few simple steps. Put on layers of clothing. Do some exercise to stimulate your circulation. Listen to the radio to see if a "heating center" will open in your community. (see "Winter Storms" for more information)
To Help Reduce the Possibility of Rolling Blackout, the Power Industry Recommends the Following Steps
♦ If you have a heating and air conditioning unit, install a programmable thermostat. Set the heating temperature at 68 degrees or lower, and the air conditioning temperature at 78 degrees or higher.
♦ Program (or turn off) the unit to shut off during the times of day you are not home. Heating and cooling your home takes more power than anything else, so adjusting the temperature is the biggest energy conservation you can do. It will also save you money.
♦ Replace regular light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
♦ Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Turn off your computer monitor instead of using the screen saver.
♦ Keep the doors and windows closed when using the heater or air conditioning unit. Caulk your doors and windows, or consider replacing old ones with new energy efficient ones.
♦ Clean and replace filters for your heating and air conditioning units on a regular basis.
♦ Consider buying new energy efficient appliances, such as your refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer or dishwasher.
♦ Wash only full loads of cloths or dishes, and do it in the morning or evening when the demand for power is less. Consider hand washing your dishes.
♦ Wrap your water heater with proper insulation. Consider purchasing a more efficient model, or a tank less model.