Are you reading this on your phone screen in a dark room? Well, then you just might be in the middle of a blackout. We’re here to help “get out of the dark” with our ultimate power outage survival guide.
If your power outage is part of a rolling blackout or planned maintenance, you’d probably expect your power to return quickly. You might feel like your biggest concern is eating all the ice cream in your freezer before it melts. But if you’re waiting for the lights to kick back on at any minute, we have a few pointers and one question for you.
Quick tips for surviving a minor power outage
- Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
- Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. (Sorry, no ice cream for you.)
- If you must use a generator to power medical equipment or other vital devices, keep it outdoors and away from windows.
- Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
- Check with local officials about heating and cooling locations open near you if your home is starting to feel uncomfortable.
- Remember that your HVAC system counts as a costly appliance. It can be damaged if the power comes up and down abruptly multiple times. Turning it off during a blackout can save you a real headache later; just remember to turn it back on when the power is stable again.
By the way, the question: is melted ice cream soup?
Power outages: a problem that is not going away
You are not alone if you have power today but are worried about not having it tomorrow (or when the next storm comes through). And you’re wise to think ahead.
- Power outages have doubled in frequency over the past five years, and we can expect the trend to continue moving forward in 2022.
- Much of America’s electrical transmission system is aging and requires significant investments to keep the power on.
- At the same time, catastrophic weather events are becoming more frequent, which often lead to power lines going down, sometimes for weeks or even months.
Even when the power lines to your home are all working, there’s no guarantee that there’s enough power to supply you. California faces a chronic power shortage. Other places that count on water to provide their power may have to deal with similar problems.
Many people across the US are taking control of their home’s energy needs and have chosen to install a solar system with battery backup. Does having solar power really help during a power outage? Find out here.
How to survive a major power outage
It’s easy to think that when the power goes out that you will just be inconvenienced for a couple hours while your house is dark. But if your area is hit with a major outage, there are some more significant issues to consider.
A major power outage can cause all kinds of problems, including:
- Disrupting communications systems, including internet and phone coverage
- Stopping the flow of safe and clean water
- Disrupting public transportation
- Interrupting access to retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs and banks
- Disrupting food supply chains
- Preventing access to vital medical devices.
7 power outage survival tips: what to consider when planning for a major power outage
Consider these ideas when making a plan if you’re worried about preparing for a power outage.
1. Understand if you need to refrigerate medicines.
If someone in your family takes a medication that requires refrigeration, make sure you have plans for keeping them at the correct temperature. Most refrigerators will stay cool for 2-3 hours. If you’re out of power for a day, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible. Check with your doctor when conditions are so bad that you can’t easily replace the medicine. Find out how long medication can remain effective at higher temperatures. Get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
2. Know your medical device needs.
If you use a medical device to maintain your health, talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity.
3. Make a list of everything that is electricity dependent.
Check to see if your batteries are fresh. Have flashlights for every household member. Also, find out if your home phone will work without electricity. In addition, have a plan for alternative power supplies for your items.
4. Get some cash on hand.
Take a trip to the bank for some cash or traveler’s checks. With ATMs, banks, and store payment systems possibly out of commission, it’s a good idea to have cash for essential transactions.
5. Stock up on nonperishable food.
This includes anything canned, freeze-packed or sealed. Just don’t forget a manual can opener. And have a plan to warm it up, like a camp stove you can use outdoors. Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if you don’t open it. A freezer can preserve food up to 48 hours if kept closed. A full freezer stays colder longer than a half-full one. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher. Check the temperature with a thermometer if you must open the refrigerator to ensure it’s still in the safe zone.
6. Get a generator… or better yet, solar panels.
Generators are noisy, messy, and require a fuel supply. But they will keep your lights on, especially if an extended power outage puts your life at risk. Make sure you handle yours safely and never run it indoors. And if you don’t have solar yet, now might be the time to think about trying it. Solar panels and a battery backup can help keep your lights on during outages.
7. Install carbon monoxide detectors.
Carbon monoxide poisoning often occurs in the wake of natural disasters and other power outages. This is because many people misuse camp stoves and generators when the power goes out. Those tools are deadly when used inside and having detectors in place can help avoid making dangerous mistakes. Make sure to install them on every level of your home.
Much of this information is from Ready.gov, a Department of Homeland Security resource. For more guidance, check out their website.
2 ways to empower you during power outages
If you generate your own power on your own roof with a solar system, there are two ways you could reduce the impact of power outages.
- Solar panel batteries. Including solar batteries as part of your solar system is one way to prepare for blackouts. A solar battery stores the sun’s energy when your rooftop panels generate more power than your home is using. That energy can power your home after the sun goes down or even during an outage.
- Sunlight Backup technology. When the grid goes down, many home solar systems have to shut down to keep current out of the grid. That’s to help the utility workers. Until recently, having a solar backup battery as part of your solar system was the only way to keep the power on. But now there’s a new option. With the revolutionary Enphase IQ8 microinverter, the energy generated from your solar system can be channeled into your home without a battery backup even during a blackout. Enphase’s industry-first Sunlight Backup technology allows you to keep powering essential appliances even during a daytime blackout. That means lights, fans, and phones can stay powered while the sun is shining even if the grid around you is down.
Want to learn more? Here’s a list of resources about power outages:
- Are Power Outages Increasing in the U.S.?
- 10 Unique Power Outage Hacks
- Solar Panels and Power Outages: What You Need to Know
- Solar Batteries vs. Generators: the Ultimate Battle
Contact an ADT Solar Specialist today if you are worried about power outages and want to learn how solar power can help.