Who turned out all the lights? Maybe a storm is raging outside and a power line is down in your neighborhood, or perhaps a transformer was overloaded at your local power station. There are many complex components that make up the power grid, and like any complex system, there are many reasons that can cause a failure. Often, the parts that make up the grid are susceptible to lightning strikes, downed limbs, and wind. Squirrels and birds can also wreak havoc, causing equipment to malfunction or stop working altogether. It’s no secret that America’s energy supply runs through an aging infrastructure, and due to age and these other factors we see short-term power outages in all parts of the country from time to time.
While we as individuals do not have the ability to prevent power outages, there are things we can do to prepare for such events. Below is a list of five areas of concern to help you prepare.
It can be aggravating when a blackout suddenly occurs in the evening and you have no light source. Here are some items to consider storing to keep you out of the dark:
Blackouts are often the result of a larger event like a tornado or earthquake. One of the first things we want to do after such an event is to make sure our loved ones are okay. It is also important to listen for alerts, warnings, and instructions during and after an emergency. Items to keep available are:
During a power outage, it is important to have options to run small devices for lighting, communication and warmth. Think about having these items at the ready:
The average person requires about a gallon of water per day. Since power outages are sometimes the result of larger events it is a good idea to keep several gallon of purified water available for emergency use. FEMA recommends that every American keep 3 gallons (3 days’ worth) in case of emergency. Water filtration systems can also come in handy if fresh water stops flowing from the tap.
As with water, it is recommended to store at least 3 days’ worth of non-perishable food. When the power goes out, your fridge and freezer are out. A fully stocked refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for about a day and a freezer about 2 days, but the length of a power outage is unpredictable and one should not rely upon perishable foods that have not been properly chilled. Choose non-perishable foods that you and your family like to eat. Pay attention to sodium content, as too much sodium can lead to increased water consumption. Keep different types of food (canned, boxed, freeze-dried, etc.), and don’t forget to add a can opener in with your emergency supply.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great starting point when considering items to gather in preparation for a power outage. Further tips and suggestions can be found online at www.gameplanexperts.com or FEMA’s website, www.ready.gov.