Batten Down the Hatches: Be Prepared for a Power Outage
Picture this: You’re at home, in the middle of a particularly poignant binge watch when you hear it—it’s the sound of silence. Your power has gone out. While your favorite show is no longer an option, you can still be prepared for such an unexpected occurrence.
We’ve all had to deal with power outages, from minor fluctuations to longer-term blackouts. And while the helpless feeling you may have during these periods can be daunting, there are steps you can take to ensure that no matter what happens, you and your family are safe and comfortable during a disruption to your electrical system.
In this blog post, we’ll look at why these outages occur as well as provide some tips on how to prepare for them in advance. Not only will we explore some simple ways to be prepared for short-term outages, but also provide advice on what steps to take if the power goes out for an extended period of time. So batten down the hatches and get ready—it’s time to get educated on power cut safety!
What Causes a Power Outage?
When a power outage suddenly plunges your home into darkness, it can be a frightening experience. But what exactly causes these outages?
There are several common factors that can cause power outages in the home. Extreme weather like high winds and heavy rain can damage power lines and disrupt electricity supplies, while electrical surges can occur when too much current flows through a circuit at once. Other causes may include fallen trees, equipment failure, overloaded circuits and even wildlife such as birds or animals disrupting power lines.
No matter the cause of the outage, having an emergency plan in place is essential to keep you safe and comfortable during a blackout. Take some time to prepare in advance so you know how to respond if a power outage ever strikes your home.
The Importance of Having a Backup Power Source
When it comes to power outages, being prepared is essential if you’re going to ride out the storm. A reliable backup power source is a must for any household that’s expecting extended periods of time without electricity.
Having a backup power source has several benefits:
- It helps you stay connected in the event of a power outage, allowing devices such as phones and laptops to stay charged.
- It keeps essential appliances like fridges and freezers running for an extended period of time.
- It can power up necessary medical devices like breathing machines or dialysis equipment.
- And it’s a lifesaver if you need to stay off the grid in an emergency or during a disaster.
There are plenty of options available, such as solar generators, gas generators, and battery backups. You just need to find the right one that fits your needs—so take some time and consider your options carefully before making your choice.
Types of Backup Generators: Standby & Portable
Two main types of generators exist: standby and portable. When you’re preparing for a power outage, it’s important to understand the differences and determine which type is best for you.
Standby generators are connected to your home’s electrical supply, and their main purpose is to provide automatic backup power when there’s an issue with the main electrical supply. That’s because they turn on automatically once the power goes out, typically within 10 seconds of a power failure. They also run on propane or natural gas, so they can last for hours. The downside? They’re expensive and will run you several thousand dollars.
For those who don’t want to splurge on a standby generator, a portable one will do just fine in most cases. Portable generators typically rely on gasoline or diesel to operate, but they need to be manually started and wired into your home’s circuit breaker panel — something that needs to be done by a professional electrician for safety reasons. As for cost savings? Portable generators come in at around 500 bucks, depending on the wattage capacity you choose.
Evaluating Your Needs to Determine the Right Generator for You
No one wants to be left in the dark during a power outage, so it’s time to evaluate your needs and make sure you have the proper generator for your home. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
Generators can be portable for in-home use or standby for hard-wired connection. Portable generators are useful for short-term power outages and require manual connection each time they are used. Standby generators are permanently connected to your home, automatically detect outages and turn on within seconds of a loss of power.
Power Output Requirements
You’ll need to determine what wattage you need from a generator before you buy. Calculate the total wattage of all items that will be plugged into the generator at one time, including major appliances like refrigerators and freezers, as well as smaller items like lights or TVs. You’ll want to select a generator that can offer 30%-50% more wattage than the total wattage needed for these items.
Generators require fuel sources such as diesel, propane or natural gas. Diesel models may cost more upfront but have advantages such as lower fuel costs over fuel types like propane, more efficient power output and longer engine life spans.
By considering these three factors carefully, you can narrow down your choices and find the right generator for keeping your home comfortable during a blackout!
Steps to Ensure Your Generator Is Ready for Use
When the power goes out, being prepared can minimize the disruption and help ensure your safety. A generator can be a lifesaver in a power outage, so it pays to take the steps to make sure yours is ready when you need it.
Ensure you have enough fuel
Fuel is obviously an essential part of having a generator. Make sure you have enough fuel on hand before an outage happens. Check your generator’s fuel tank before shutting it off after each use, and top up as necessary.
Change the oil regularly
Like any engine, generators require regular oil changes to ensure they run properly and efficiently. Make sure to check and change your generator’s oil as often as recommended by the manufacturer.
Test the battery
Generators typically include a battery that will need to be charged to start the engine when it’s needed. Check the battery before an emergency strikes, or test after each use to see if it needs recharging or replacing.
Clean or replace air filters
Your generator runs on combustion, so the air filters should be changed regularly from general wear and tear or replaced if necessary depending on your model. Clean filters ensure optimum efficiency—not something you want to skimp on in an emergency!
Following these steps will help make sure that your generator is running properly and ready for an unexpected power outage—and let you breathe a little easier knowing you’ll be safe!
Best Practices for Running a Generator During a Power Outage
If you have a generator, you might be tempted to crank it up and get your power back—but you need to be careful. Generators can also pose safety risks if not operated properly. For example, backfeeding, when a generator is connected directly to household wiring, i.e., without being connected through a transfer switch, is extremely dangerous and can cause injury or death!
So here are a few best practices for running your generator during a power outage:
- Make sure your generator is properly installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Connect appliances directly to the outlets on the generator or use heavy-duty extension cords that are rated for outdoor use.
- Position the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area ensuring that exhaust gasses from the generator won’t enter your home or business.
- Don’t overload your generator and make sure you follow the wattage requirements of each appliance or device you plan to connect to it.
- Keep all handles clean and dry, including those on extension cords and plugs, to reduce the risk of shock or fire from sparks caused by static electricity buildup.
- Gather materials like sandbags and plywood boards in advance in case of flooding so that you can protect electronics from water damage in an emergency situation.
- Never try to power your house wiring by plugging the generator into an outlet at home or running extension cords under doors or through windows—this can cause fire, electrocution, or carbon monoxide poisoning!
No matter the cause of a power outage, it’s always best to be prepared. Investing in a backup generator is the most reliable way to prepare for a power outage and keep your living spaces running.
Whether it’s a permanent standby generator or a portable one, having the right generator is the key to keeping energy flowing and protecting your most important items—your family, your home and your valuables. Make sure to research different options and make an informed decision on the right generator for you.
It’s important to remember that power outages can happen without warning, and having a backup generator is the best way to avoid any hassle or inconvenience. Making sure you’re prepared can mean the difference between a power outage merely being an annoyance and being a major problem.