Electricity-Dependent: Don’t Be Caught in the Dark

Posted by: Guest Contributor on October 5th, 2012

You’re sitting here reading this article on your computer, while your television plays in the background, sipping the hot coffee you just grabbed from your coffeemaker… and then, without warning, the power goes out. In our lifetimes, we will be subjected to power outages, whether they’re from a natural disaster or a rolling blackout. (People living on the East Coast can attest to this, after struggling, some as long as a week, with a power loss from storms this summer.) Technology has allowed us to innovate and build everything smaller, faster, and at a lower cost, but it’s still susceptible to nature’s whims.

New products enter the market almost every day to meet a perceived need while, at the same time, making us more and more dependent upon electrical power. If you think about it, even the cordless phones you use in your home need electricity to work.

As this demand for electricity has grown, it has put more stress on the production, transmission, and distribution of power in the United States. Weather isn’t the only threat to your electrical well-being; cyber terrorism is a real and present threat to the power system. Also, as the need for power continues to exponentially increase, the power grid itself runs the risk of equipment failures or human error.

When the power goes out, you never know when it will be up and running again. Depending upon the severity of what caused it to go out to begin with, you may be out of power for days or even weeks. In the case of a power outage, here are five steps you and your family can take to be prepared:

1. Take a good look around.

You need to take stock of all of the items in your home that use power that you couldn’t live without. Is it the furnace, air conditioner, well for water, refrigerator, or even an oxygen machine that you need on a daily basis to survive? In addition to the big picture, look at the small appliances around your house that require power: your alarm clock, water heater, cell phone, landline, and radio.

2. Place a value on your food.

Consider the items in your refrigerator and freezer, as well as how long these appliances will be able to keep perishable items cold. You should have a supply of nonperishable food that will ideally last you a week or more. Did you know a grocery store typically has only three days’ worth of items on its shelves? If they aren’t able to restock their shelves, where does that leave you?

3. Have the basics on hand.

Here’s a basic list of items that you should always have in case of an emergency: a wind-up alarm clock, bottled water, flashlights with extra batteries, a portable radio, an alternate cooking method other than the stove, and nonperishable food. You should also have a back-up plan for opening your garage door if it’s electrically operated. (It’s true that your car doesn’t need utility power, but do you know how you’re going to get out of your garage?)

4. Get some alternative energy.

If the power goes out, you don’t have to be left in the dark. A standby power generator comes in two primary options. The first kind is a portable gasoline-style generator. These range in size from approximately 3,500 to 15,000 watts. This type of generator needs to be moved to a place where exhaust can safely move away from your home. The plus side to this alternative is its relatively low cost. The downside of this type of generator is safety and convenience: You need to have an adequate supply of fresh fuel on hand to run it, the fuel needs to be stored safely, and you have to correctly set up the portable generator in the event you need it.

An excellent alternative to the portable gasoline generator is a permanently installed home standby generator system that uses clean, environmentally friendly propane or natural gas. These home generator systems for power outages can range in size from 7,000 to 125,000 watts. The system is wired into your home and can serve specifically designated appliances or your entire house. The home standby generator system is fully automatic, comes on when the power goes out, transfers your home to the standby generator, and safely switches you back to utility power when it has been restored. Home standby generators have a somewhat higher cost than portables, but they are well worth the peace of mind and convenience if you’ll be grappling with a long outage.

5. Be prepared.

They say knowledge is power; it’s essential to prepare for, and understand, your options during a power outage. Whether it’s the middle of winter and you need heat or the heat wave has hit its peak during the summer, you will need something powered by electricity to survive the power outage. Consider whether you’d have to check into a hotel or travel to a relative’s home, find hand-operated alternatives, or purchase a home standby generator.

From a blown transformer to a tornado, we are all at risk of losing utility power at some time. In order to keep your family, business, or home safe, knowing what you will do in the event of an emergency will help you take care of those most important to you. If you or anyone in your family has any health-related issues, it’s even more important to have a plan. Get your emergency preparedness plan ready, and you will be one step ahead of any surprises nature may throw at you.

Clayton Preble is the founder and president of GenSpring Power, Inc., a company formed in 2002 that specializes in home standby generator systems for residential customers. Prior to forming GenSpring Power, he spent more than 30 years in the natural gas industry. He is a Master Service Technician, the highest service level expertise certified by Briggs & Stratton.



3 Comments on “Electricity-Dependent: Don’t Be Caught in the Dark”

Luxus immobilien

well written. Thanks for sharing such a great post.

Thank you

Condo for Sale

You should also always make sure that you have some cash on hand for emergencies. This way, if the blackout is citywide and ATMs become unavailable, you’ll still have money to spend.

Access for Sale Wexford

Generators are available on rent too. When you need a generator just for an occasion, there is no need to buy it, just hire it at very less cost.

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