The hot summer months are “prime time” for power outages, due in part to increased overall demand on the power grid and due in part to the risk of damage from summer storms. Outages can be highly disruptive across the board. Not only can businesses lose thousands of dollars in lost revenue from the downtime, but sensitive individuals may even face serious health risks if they can’t get relief from the heat. Here are 10 key ways you can be prepared to weather power outages if and when they happen.
Keep electronic devices charged.
One of the first things people do in a power outage is to reach for their smartphones to try and get information. But assuming wireless service is still up (sometimes it isn’t), what happens when your devices run out of battery power? To maintain connection, make a habit of charging your phones, tablets and laptops nightly–and try to have a couple of battery backup chargers handy in case the outage is extended.
Keep your gas tank full.
Power outages mean gas stations can’t pump gas because the pumps rely on electricity. To avoid being stranded, keep your gas tank at least half full at all times, especially during the summer months.
Stock up on staple foods and water.
If a power outage lasts more than a day or two, you’re going to need food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Stock up on canned goods, dry goods and other non-perishable items, as well as plenty of bottled water. And if you have a baby or small child, don’t forget the diapers and wipes.
Stock up on candles, flashlights, and batteries (and know where to find them).
Most of us have these on hand, but we end up scrambling in the dark looking for them when a blackout happens at night. Don’t just have these items available–store them in an obvious place so you know where to reach for them in a hurry.
Invest in a generator.
If power outages are frequent in your area, or if you have a business that can’t risk losing power, it may make sense to invest in a generator. There are different types of generators available, so do your research to find the one that best meets your needs.
Keep a stash of cash.
While we’re on our way to becoming a cashless society, ATMs and credit card machines won’t work in an outage. So it’s always good to have some cash on hand for emergencies. If you run a retail business, keeping a cash bank may help you continue doing business during the outage.
Stay informed with a battery-operated radio.
In an outage, it’s important to stay tuned in for updates from local officials about when power is expected to be restored, as well as any other critical information. Keep a battery-operated radio (or a TV if you have one) in a central location, and make sure everyone in your household knows where it is.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible.
It only takes food 4 hours to spoil in a fridge once an outage happens; for a freezer, it’s 24-48 hours. However, if you open either one and let warm air inside, these time frames shorten. It’s always a good idea to limit the amount of time a fridge or freezer is open, not just to save electricity, but to buy yourself as much time as possible if an outage occurs.
Keep rags and towels handy.
If an outage happens during a heat wave, it doesn’t take long for the air indoors to become hot and oppressive–and that can be uncomfortable at best, and life-threatening at worst. One way to keep cool is to have a stash of clean rags and towels that you can soak in water and place on your head and neck. This will help you stay cool and prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Have a backup plan for essential services.
For individuals with serious health concerns who rely on home medical equipment that requires electricity, a power outage can be a real crisis. Make sure you know how long your backup batteries will last and keep a list of emergency phone numbers on hand in case you need to evacuate.
Following these tips can help you be prepared for a power outage, whether it’s caused by severe weather, an accident at the local power plant, rolling blackouts, or anything else. By being prepared, you can minimize the inconvenience and keep yourself safe until the lights come back on.