|What to do During an Electrical Outage|
|Library of Articles - Storm Preparation-Fall/Winter|
We will look beyond a short-term power outage and provide suggestions in case a home needs to be shut down for longer periods of time. The actions that you take will differ from season to season. For example, a winter power outage requires different action than a summer outage. We will look at these problems and discuss the steps you need to follow to stay as comfortable and as prepared as possible.
Short-Term Power Failures
Keep in mind that many farms have a centralized metering location which would have additional fuses or circuit breakers which could be blown or tripped. A supply of extra fuses should be kept on hand at all times. Do not replace a fuse with one of a larger amperage rating. It could result in a fire.
Unplug appliances with electronic components, such as microwaves, televisions and VCRs. This will help to eliminate damage to your appliances from voltage surges when the electricity is restored. Wait a few minutes before turning on these appliances when the electricity is restored. This will reduce demand on the power supplier's electrical system.
If you use a standby generator, be sure it has been installed and wired properly. If improperly installed, a generator could cause dangerous conditions for the utility supplier's employees working to restore the power. Your generator could be damaged when the power is restored if a double throw disconnect is not used and properly installed.
Of course, it is also important to be sure that a fresh supply of fuel to power the generator is on hand and stored properly.
To make an outage easier to cope with, keep an adequate supply of the following on hand at all times. These should be kept in a cool, dry place and all members of the family should know where to find them.
Check the basement periodically for flooding. You can use a portable, gasoline-powered pump to pump out a basement or crawl space when the power is interrupted to an electric sump pump. Never wade into a flooded basement unless electricity supplying sump pumps, freezers, etc. has been disconnected. The power may be restored while you are in the flooded basement and the motors on these appliances may be submerged.
Never go near downed power lines; let qualified people from the power supplier handle these situations.
Summer Power Outages
A barbecue grill is an excellent way to prepare food. A charcoal grill should always be used outside. A gas range can also be used. Keep in mind that many newer gas ranges have electronic ignitions and will not work during a power outage. If you use a camp stove, be sure the area is well ventilated. The fuel for the stove
Air conditioners should be turned off during power outages. Do not turn them back on for several minutes after the power has been restored.
Dress comfortably and use natural ventilation to keep your home cool.
If the health of family members is a concern, contact friends or neighbors who have electricity and see if resources can be shared. Many communities provide emergency services through churches, agencies and other organizations to take care of the needy. Keep the name and phone numbers of these groups by the telephone at all times. These locations will be listed on local radio stations if an outage occurs, so keep your portable radio tuned in for local information.
Your electricity supplier should be notified if you use life support equipment in your home. Most power suppliers keep a priority list based on the homes in which life support systems are in use. They will try to restore the power to these homes as quickly as possible.
Winter Power Outages
Move to a single room, preferably one with few windows. Ideally, this room should be on the south side of the home for maximum heat gain in the daytime. The room should be shut off from the rest of the house and could be one with a fireplace, wood stove or other alternate heat source.
If you use an alternate heat source, be sure and follow operating instructions. For example if you use a kerosene heater, adequate ventilation is a must. All fuels should be stored outside of the home for safety reasons. Wood stoves and fireplaces should be maintained properly throughout the year to prevent problems
when they are needed in an emergency.
to drain the water pipes of your home.
Consolidate your resources with neighbors. They might have heat and electricity in their homes. As in summer, people with health problems should be taken to a church, community agency or other location where their needs can be met.
Extended Power Outage/Home Shutdown
Winterize your water supply system completely. Be sure to disconnect the electrical supply to the water heater before draining. If the power is not off there can be damage to the elements in the heater. Drain the water system from the lowest possible point so there will be as little water as possible left in the pipes.
Hot water heating systems should be drained unless filled with a nonfreezing solution. A call to your dealer or installer will tell you if it should be drained.
Empty all food from freezers and refrigerators and leave the doors open. The food could be taken to neighbors that have electricity or to a food locker. Dry ice could also be used for a short period of time. The easiest solution may be to take the food outside if the temperature is cold enough.
If your home is equipped with an electric heat pump, special care is needed when turning the unit on after an extended outage. It takes a period of time for the lubricant in the refrigerant to warm-up. This is approximately one and one-half hours per ton of cooling capacity. This could vary from brand to brand and a call to your dealer could prevent problems. During this compressor warm up time you should use the supplemental or emergency resistance heating elements of the heat pump to heat the home.
Keep curtains closed except on south facing windows in the winter when the sun is shining. This will supply some passive solar heat in the daytime hours. Draperies should always be closed at night.
Remember to stay calm. The electricity will be back on as quickly as possible. Your electric supplier is working around the clock to restore your service.