Power outages can be scary and dangerous. To help you mentally prepare, we’ve answered some of the most common power outage-related questions.
What are the effects of power outages?
Many things will quit working during a blackout. These are some examples:
- Your appliances: Since appliances only work on electricity, consider getting a generator to power up all the essentials, such as the fridge and your electronic devices.
- Your toilet: You will not be able to flush it.
- Your water heater: Say goodbye to warm showers, and water altogether if you have a tankless water heater.
- Water pipes: If you experience an outage during extremely cold temperatures, you may risk frozen pipes which could result in cracks.
- Your home’s heating system: I hope you have a wood fireplace. If not, bundle up with blankets.
- Your home’s air conditioning system: If you need to cool down on a hot day, check out these 49 tips to beat the summer heat!
- Traffic lights: Traffic lights will flash in red and work like stop signs. This means that traffic is bound to be congested and possibly more dangerous than other times. Travel only when, and if, you need to.
- Credit cards: Machine checkout systems cannot work unless the machine is powered by a backup generator. Keep $200 in small bills and coins to pay in cash if some stores choose to remain open.
- Closed stores and offices: You can expect many businesses and schools to be closed during an outage- unless they use generators. This includes the post office, gas stations, grocery stores, the mall, and restaurants.
Who do I call if there’s a power outage in my area?
The first thing you should do is to check your breakers and circuit boxes. If the problem doesn’t seem to be related to that, and you can see that the outage is limited to your home or neighborhood, contact your electric company to report the outage.
If the outage is related to a natural disaster, you should look at your electric company’s website and social media pages for updates. Avoid calling them right away because their phone lines will probably be congested. In widespread outages, the company is already aware of the situation and working to restore the power as soon as they can.
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How long does a power outage last on average?
Outages can last as little as a few minutes and as long as several weeks. Many variables could be responsible for causing a power outage- natural disasters and maintenance being two of the most probable reasons.
Excessive use of air conditioning during a heat wave, for example, could cause widespread blackouts that can last for several hours. Heavily damaged or downed power lines due to tropical or winter storms can take much longer to repair, thereby extending the time for the power to be restored.
Could we survive a long-term power outage?
Perhaps! I’m confident that we can survive a few weeks without power. Although we would have to live in less than ideal situations, I think it would be doable if only we set our minds and really prepare to make it so.
Regardless of the situations we are faced with, it’s human nature to find a way to work past them no matter how difficult they seem. Being prepared makes it a whole lot easier to overcome them, and that’s why it’s important to be aware of the probability that it can happen to anyone and at any time.
Store enough supplies to get you through a blackout for 3 to 14 days minimum.
What should I unplug during a power outage?
During outages, the irregular supply of power can result in a voltage spike that may fry your electronics and appliances. To prevent this, it is recommended that you unplug the following items until the power is stabilized:
- Electronic devices, including phone and tablet chargers, battery chargers, computers, printers, hard drives, televisions, cable boxes, DVD players, and other entertainment systems.
- Appliances, including washers, dryers, fans, lights, coffee makers, toasters, microwave ovens, portable heaters or ac units, and electric burners.
High current appliances like your refrigerator and hot water tank don’t necessarily need to be unplugged but you can do it if it makes you feel better.
Tip: Get surge suppressors to protect your appliances and electronics in the event that an outage occurs while you’re not home or are unable to unplug them in time.
Should I turn off the main breaker during a power outage?
It would be good practice to switch off all the breakers except the one that feeds the light switches. This way you can leave one light on and know when the power returns. Once the electricity has stabilized, you can switch the breakers back to position “on”.
If you’re not home during an outage, hopefully you have surge protectors installed.
How do I switch the electricity off in my house?
To do this, find the circuit breaker box in your home and flip the main breaker to “off”.
Why would you want to do this? During storms where your home or basement is at risk of being flooded, you should shut off the power to prevent an electric shock which could lead to death.
How long will the fridge stay cold without power?
According to the FDA, a refrigerator can stay cold for approximately 4 hours if unopened. A freezer will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours if it’s at full capacity, and approximately 24 hours if it’s half-way full. Of course, just like the fridge, the freezer doors need to remain closed.
How does the plumbing system work when the power is out?
The plumbing system is dependent on electricity to work properly. We’ve answered the plumbing-related questions, including “can I shower during a power outage?” and “do toilets work without power?” in this article.
For more information on power outage mitigation and safety, check out our guide here. We’ve provided a checklist for you as well. Be sure to print it out and keep it with your emergency supplies for when you need it in the future.
Do you have any power outage questions that weren’t answered? If so, leave them in the comments below!
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