Power outages are becoming less frequent in some parts of the country thanks to advances in grid technology. However, they do still happen from time to time, and it’s always good to be prepared for one. There are several ways to prepare for an outage, and there are several things you can do during and after an outage occurs.
First of all, even before any outage is even likely, you should take steps to conserve energy. This can include shutting lights and computers off when they are not in use, washing only full loads in the dish or clothes washers, and changing any incandescent lights over to more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Before the Outage
Set up an emergency kit for your home. To help preserve food in the event of a prolonged outage, purchase a few Styrofoam coolers and ice packs so you can keep food refrigerated. It is also very important to stock up on water as well. You should have one gallon of water per person per day, and should have at least a three day supply in the event an evacuation is required. Stock up on non-perishable foods as well, once again maintaining a minimum three day supply. For both water and food, it is recommended you have a two week supply at home, in case you do not need to evacuate, but the power remains off for a particularly long time. With an impending outage, like a hurricane approaching, fill a bathtub with water and leave a bucket nearby. This way, after using the restroom, you can use a bucket of water from the tub to refill the toilet bowl.
Keep flashlights and plenty of batteries on hand as well. Investing in LED flashlights will get the most out of your batteries, and investing in Faraday flashlights will eliminate the need for batteries in your flashlight altogether. Faraday flashlights have a coil inside them surrounding a magnet. By shaking the light, you will recharge its internal battery, meaning you will always have light. This same principle applies to hand crank radios, which are also important. Having a radio, particularly a NOAA weather radio, will provide you with up-to-date information regarding the situation.
Regardless of disasters, always be sure to have a first aid kit on hand. You never know when it will be needed. Be sure to pack any medications and medical equipment (syringes, glucose meters, oxygen, battery backup power) along with your emergency supplies. For medications, bring enough with you to last a week. Multipurpose tools and sanitation items are another must have. In the event of evacuation, bring along any personal documents involving medication lists, insurance, home deeds, birth certificates, social security cards, and other personal IDs. Each evacuee should keep a list of emergency contact numbers as well.
Of course, bring cell phones and chargers as well as cash. Even though the power is out, you may find someone with a generator or others willing to let you charge your phone. You may also consider getting a solar charger for your phone. If you have home phone service, keep a corded phone around in case the power goes out. Unless telephone lines are knocked down, a corded phone should still work.
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