Blackouts

Discussion in 'Energy & Electricity' started by kc5fm, Oct 28, 2008.

  1. kc5fm

    kc5fm Emergency Manager

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    From our Friends at the American Red Cross:

    Top Safety Tips for a Blackout

    * Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles!
    * Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.
    * Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
    * Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
    * If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.
    * Listen to local radio and television for updated information.

    How Can I Prepare Before a Blackout Happens?
    Assemble essential supplies, including:

    * Flashlight
    * Batteries
    * Portable radio
    * at least one gallon of water
    * a small supply of food.
    * Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power outage.

    If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water). Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold if the power goes out, by displacing air that can warm up quickly with water or ice that keeps cold for several hours without additional refrigeration.

    If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.

    If you use a computer, keep files and operating systems backed up regularly. Consider buying extra batteries and a power converter if you use a laptop computer. A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter of a vehicle. Also, turn off all computers, monitors, printers, copiers, scanners and other devices when they're not being used. That way, if the power goes out, this equipment will have already been safely shut down. Get a high quality surge protector for all of your computer equipment. If you use the computer a lot, such as for a home business, consider purchasing and installing an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). Consult with your local computer equipment dealer about available equipment and costs.

    If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it. Sometimes garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home upon return from work, be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door will not open.

    If you have a telephone instrument or system at home or at work that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication, including having a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone, radio, or pager. Remember, too, that some voice mail systems and remote dial-up servers for computer networks may not operate when the power is out where these systems are located. So even if you have power, your access to remote technology may be interrupted if the power that serves those areas is disrupted. Check with remote service providers to see if they have backup power systems, and how long those systems will operate.

    Keep your car fuel tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

    Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power company(ies) avoid imposing rolling blackouts.

    Specific Information for People With Disabilities
    If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system, or other power-dependent equipment, call your power company before rolling blackouts happen. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Ask them what alternatives are available in your area. Contact the customer service department of your local utility company(ies) to learn if this service is available in your community.

    If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.

    If you are Blind or have a visual disability, store a talking or Braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.

    If you are Deaf or have a hearing loss, consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set. Emergency broadcasts may give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.

    Using a Generator
    If you are considering obtaining a generator, get advice from a licensed professional, such as an electrician. Make sure the generator is listed with Underwriter's Laboratories or a similar organization. Some municipalities, Air Quality Districts, or states have "air quality permit" requirements. A licensed electrician will be able to give you more information on these matters. Always plan to keep the generator outdoors -- never operate it inside, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and backfeeding power to your home is an unsafe method to supply a building during a power outage.

    For more information about using generators safely, see the Generator fact sheet.

    What Do I Do During A Blackout?
    Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace.

    Leave one light turned on so you'll know when your power returns.

    Leave the doors of your refrigerator and freezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage. See the Red Cross brochure called, "Help The Power Is Out" for more information.

    Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information -- only call to report a life-threatening emergency.

    Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.

    Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage.

    If it is hot outside, take steps to remain cool. Move to the lowest level of your home, as cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. If the heat is intense and the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall, or "cooling shelter" that may be opened in your community. Listen to local radio or television for more information. Get more tips on the preparing for a heat wave.

    Remember to provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pets.

    If it is cold outside, put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (relative, friend, or public facility) that has heat to keep warm.

    Energy Conservation Recommendations

    * To conserve power to help avoid a blackout, the power industry recommends:
    * In heating season, set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower. In cooling season, set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Consider installing a programmable thermostat that you can set to have the furnace or air conditioning run only when you are at home. Most power is used by heating and cooling, so adjusting the temperatures on your thermostat is the biggest energy conservation measure you can take.
    * Turn off lights and computers when not in use. This is especially true about computer monitors - avoid using a "screen saver" and just simply turn the monitor off when you won't be using the computer for a while. Turn the computer off completely each evening. It is no longer true that computer equipment is damaged from turning it off and on.
    * Close windows when the heating or cooling system is on.
    * Caulk windows and doors to keep air from leaking, and replace old windows with new, energy-efficient windows.
    * Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly.
    * When buying new appliances be sure to purchase energy-efficient models.
    * Wrap the water heater with an insulation jacket, available at most building supplies retailers.
    * If you have to wash clothes, wash only full loads and clean the dryer's lint trap after each use.
    * When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the "light" cycle. If possible, use the "rinse only" cycle and turn off the "high temperature" rinse option. When the regular wash cycle is done, just open the dishwasher door to allow the dishes to air dry.
    * Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights.
    * Use one large light bulb rather than several smaller ones.

    For More Information
    If you would like more information about rolling blackouts and how to deal with them, contact the power company that serves your area.
     
  2. Strelnikov

    Strelnikov Member

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    About 2 weeks ago a truck hit and destroyed a power line pole 1/2 block from our house along a major highway. We were 7 hours without power. I have a small generator and I can tell you that running electrical wires all over the house is not very safe. This morning we were 4 hours without power again. Both times we ran 2 space heaters powered by the generator to keep warm. I am planning to get a transfer switch and a way to connect the generator to my house wiring in case this ever happens again. A friend has this setup in his house and at least he can run his furnace, refrigerator, and some lights when the power goes out.
     

  3. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    There are night lights that are great to have. You plug them in and they store a charge. Then they detect when the power goes out and turns on. If you don't have a backup generator, this is a simple method to instantly have lights on.

    I posted a thread about them and someone found a place to buy them online.
     
  4. Strelnikov

    Strelnikov Member

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    That's a great idea, I'll check it out. At least you'll have lights until you can fire up the generator.
     
  5. mongo79

    mongo79 mongo79

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    A little off subject, but I am researching the propane & nat gas refrigerators available from the two or three manufactures that still make absorbtion refrigeration. They require NO ELECTRICTY and are completely reliable. Power provided from a generator is relatively expensive, and both short and long term, this may be a viable option.
     
  6. Homer_Simpson

    Homer_Simpson Well-Known Member

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    I have a friend who has a cabin in the woods he runs on a propane refrigerator and propane lights.

    If you loose your power quite a bit this could be a good backup
     
  7. dunappy

    dunappy Well-Known Member

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    I know the red cross is only concerned about people's safety, but I'm a survivor of multiple "blackouts" one of which lasted nearly two full weeks.

    Our local electric coop isn't the most stable if you know what I mean.

    What I've learned.
    1. old fashioned oil lamps are great. I've got one that hangs on the wall with a reflective background to reflect more light into the space.
    2. Candles when used properly can be a great source of light. The reason the red cross says not to use them is because they don't want to be responsible if some one forgets to blow them out and catches their own house on fire. But when used responsibly they do help.
    3. You can get crank and or pump flashlights that don't require any batteries at all. Home depot has some nice crank ones. And there are also crank radios.
    4. Alternative source of heat for the winter is really nice. ( reason I totally love my wood stove.) Because when the electric is out even my propane heater won't work cause the fan won't start. And the light from the wood stove also helps light up the room.
    5. We keep a few gallons of water in the deep freeze to help keep the food in there cold, but if we absolutely need to we can pull it out and thaw it for drinking water also.
     
  8. solaceofwinter

    solaceofwinter Guest

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    i usually buy 1 or 2 packs of hose snap lights, you have to snap a tube and shake it up (usually get them a halloween)
    they dont put out a ton of light or anything but they last, and you cant burn yourself etc. plus kids can be entertained with them for a short time lol
     
  9. Herbalpagan

    Herbalpagan Well-Known Member

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    I picked up a couple of packs of glow sticks from the dollar store. They don't give off much light, but I placed them on each stair tread and in the bathroom. It kept us from tripping on the stairs and allowed us to see where to step.