We sometimes take electricity for granted because it always works when we need it. However, when the power goes out due to a big storm, car accident, or routine maintenance on the power lines, we realize how much we count on our electrical system to work properly. To keep your family safe and the disruptions in your daily life to a minimum, take steps to prepare for a power outage.
Basic Supplies to Prepare for a Power Outage
Being prepared for a power outage will make life easier for you and your family. Make sure you have a few basic supplies on hand. Most of these things are inexpensive to purchase so you can stock up and be ready when the power goes out. Keep flashlights in the house in an easy-to-access space. Have a flashlight for each member of your family and a few packs of extra batteries. It’s also a good idea to store a few gallons of bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Other supplies include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a solar-powered charger for your cell phone, candles and matches, and solar-powered LED lights that can be recharged during the day and put to use at night.
Invest in a Portable Generator
Portable generators provide an easy way to prepare for a power outage. Depending on the size and power output, most portable generators cost a few hundred dollars and take up minimal space in your garage. A generator will keep important appliances powered during an outage. In the winter, a generator provides enough power to run a space heater or two. It can power your refrigerator so perishable food will not go to waste.
The downside of portable generators is that they’re limited in their electrical output. They’re gas-powered and might need to be filled several times during an outage. Portable generators are also loud and create exhaust fumes. They have to be operated outdoors and away from any open windows. However, even with a few downsides, a portable generator offers peace of mind knowing that your house won’t be completely in the dark.
Whole House Generators
If you experience frequent power outages or you must keep the power on due to a medical condition, a whole house generator may be a better option for your property. These generators are large and typically installed on the side of your house. Because they are hardwired into your home’s electrical panel, a whole-house generator must be installed by a licensed electrician. This type of generator can also tie in directly into your natural gas line, meaning it won’t need to be refilled by hand.
The biggest benefit of a whole-house generator is it can power your entire home, so if the power goes out, there won’t be any interruption. They have sensors that detect a power outage and will turn on automatically, often within seconds of losing power.
The biggest downside of whole-house generators is the price. These generators cost several thousand dollars. Installation can also set you back hundreds of dollars because they require a trained technician for set-up. Despite these drawbacks, whole house generators are a great way to prepare for a power outage.
Heat During a Power Outage
If the power goes out in the summertime, it could be as simple as opening a few windows to stay comfortable in your home. However, losing power in the winter can mean a struggle to stay warm. If you have a fireplace or woodstove, keep a supply of well-seasoned hardwood on hand. Purchase enough wood to keep you warm for a few days.
Another option for heating during a power outage is a portable kerosene space heater. Kerosene heaters aren’t meant for long-term use but will work to keep a room warm in an emergency situation. Keep the heater clean and free of dust. Make sure it’s at least three feet away from any furniture, carpets, draperies, and bedding. Take the heater outdoors to refill it and refuel it away from any heat sources.
It’s a challenge to be without electricity when we have come to rely on it for many of our daily tasks. By being prepared for a power outage, you will make your life a bit easier until the electrical grid is functioning again.