There are many reasons why we may find ourselves in the midst of a power outage. It could be a planned blackout, severe storm, natural disaster, EMP, or accident.
Regardless of the cause, we need to take the appropriate actions to ensure that disruption to our access to electrical power has as little effect on our lives as possible.
While we all know what to do when the lights go out, it is worth mentioning a few things that we should definitely not do.
Open The Fridge Or Freezer Unnecessarily
The food in our refrigerator will stay cold for at least four hours, and your freezer should stay frozen for a day or so.
These estimates will only remain true as long as we limit the number of times we open the doors to our fridge and freezer.
Each time we crack the seal, cold air is allowed to escape, and without electricity, there is no way to cool it back down.
Think carefully each time you open the door and do everything possible to limit the amount of time it is left open.
Drive Around Unnecessarily
If the power outage is widespread, the gas stations will not be able to pump fuel out of the underground tanks.
Like battery power, you are going to have to conserve the gas in your vehicle as well. Any trips you plan to take out of the home must be carefully considered and be absolutely necessary.
Waste Battery Power
A power outage is not the time to try to get a high score on Candy Crush.
Limit the time devices that run off batteries are turned on and do not use them for any frivolous purpose.
Smartphones, tablets, flashlights, lanterns, and radios should only be used when necessary and for the least amount of time possible.
Smartphones should be turned off when not needed or at least switched to airplane mode to save battery power.
Even if you have battery backups or off-grid power solutions, do not waste battery power on anything that is not essential.
It seems that a power outage would be a perfect time to light the home with candles. Using candles is a good way to light a room without batteries, but it can be dangerous. All it takes is a moment of clumsiness to turn a candle into a house fire. If you choose to use candles, use proper holders that will not tip over.
Leave All The Lights On
We do not want to leave all our interior and exterior lights turned on when the lights go out. Like with electronics, a power surge could result in these lights being overloaded and burned out.
You should, however, keep one exterior and one interior light turned on so that power crews can see your home has restored power, and you can also tell that power is restored from the inside.
Run A Generator In The Garage
Leaving an expensive generator outside is something that none of us particularly want to do.
It is very tempting to move our generators inside the garage to keep them safe from tampering or theft.
Related: DIY Bicycle Generator
Although it is true that the door which leads from the inside of the house to the garage is designed to keep carbon monoxide and other fumes from entering the home, you should never run a generator inside a garage. The fumes will build up inside the garage and find their way into the house.
The problem with carbon monoxide is that it has no taste, color, or smell and causes illness that will lead to death if left untreated.
Use A Barbeque In the House
For the same reason as running a generator in the garage is a bad idea, you should never use a barbeque indoors.
It can be tempting to do, especially in the dead of winter, but the resulting carbon monoxide that will flood the house is deadly.
The same goes for camp stoves or any other stove that burns fuel. The same goes for using a barbeque or fuel-burning stoves in a garage.
Even if the door is open, there is no guarantee that the resulting carbon monoxide build-up will be exhausted from the space.
Leave Electronics Plugged In
If the outage is temporary, the power will eventually be restored. However, when this happens, there will be a momentary surge.
Some electronics are sensitive to surges in power and can be damaged.
Unplug electronics after the power goes out and only plug them back in when the power has been fully restored.
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Alternatively, you could use surge protectors for any sensitive electronics, which should insulate them against any power surges resulting from the restored electrical grid.
Touch Downed Wires
It does not matter if the power is out; never touch a downed wire.
Removing fallen power lines from your property can be tempting, but your home being without power does not mean that the fallen power lines are not still live.
Therefore, give all fallen power lines a wide berth and assume that all downed power lines are still live.
Forget About Your Plumbing
During a power outage, it is not intuitive to think about your plumbing.
However, if the outage occurs during the winter and you lose heating, your pipes become susceptible to freezing and need to be insulated, so they do not freeze and burst.
It is best to do this before an outage, but if the power goes out in the dead of winter, you should assess which pipes may freeze and do your best to insulate them.
The ever-increasing fragility of our electrical grid will lead to more power disruptions in the near future.
There is also the constant threat of EMP, CME, or even terrorist attacks, which could take down the electrical grid on a grand scale.
Therefore, it is essential that we always take the correct actions each time the power fails to remain safe.
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