Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What to do when the lights go out.


Power Outage Safety

Power failures on a wide scale happen when we least expect them. In the winter time they may be a result of severe weather and downed power lines. In summer excessive air conditioning may push the grid to the limit.

Sometimes the power at home or on the block may cut out from an electrical accident or short circuit.

Either way, it’s important to be prepared as best as possible. That means taking certain steps that will make life easier when a black out occurs. Some suggestions include the following:

  1. Alternative lighting sources: Since you don’t know how long a blackout will last don’t rely on security lights or solar lighting sources to help you find your way. Always keep flashlights (or head lamps that free up both hands) handy leaving them in a common place so everyone in the household knows where to look. NOTE: Flashlights reserved for an outage should be checked every few months making sure they work properly and batteries aren’t leaking. Also, if you were thinking about using candles don’t. In a blackout they are dangerous and should be avoided.

  1. In a black out cell phones may not have reception and depending on the length of the failure they will eventually run out of juice. Always have a working non-cordless house phone that doesn’t need electricity connected to your land line so you can reach to the outside world. Land lines aren’t usually affected by outages.

  1. Have a battery operated radio available in order to hear news and instructions from public officials.

  1. Always have your computer connected to a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) protecting it from a power surge and allowing you to save information and shut it down normally.

When a black out has already occurred other precautionary measures are needed.

  1. Turn off all lights except one to see when the power returns. Also turn off appliances that were in use before the black out. Doing so will prevent a power surge when the electricity returns and prevent fires from any heat producing mechanisms like a sandwich maker that were in use but forgotten about in the interim.

  1. Check and see if the outage is localized or throughout the entire neighborhood.

  1. Keep the refrigerator closed as much as possible. Blackouts may last hours and you don’t want food to go to waste, especially if the region is struck with severe weather.

  1. Watch for water collecting near electrical switches or devices which could cause electrocution and create a fire hazard.

  1. Be careful when you go outside as there may be downed but live power lines. Survey the area carefully.

  1. Stay calm: Blackouts can be scary for young children. Try to keep the family calm and teach them in an imaginative, creative, and fun way about electricity. Helping them understand what’s going on can ease tension. Outages can also be a great time to spend with the family playing games, telling stories, or playing instruments.

Jakob Barry writes, a growing community of users sharing and monitoring home improvement projects allowing homeowners and contractors to get the most from their resources. He covers various home improvement topics, including green landscaping and electrical repair .


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