You hear the whistle of wind rushing past your home, pelting rain on your roof and windows, and perhaps a flash of lightning followed by the rumble of thunder. The lights flicker a little bit and then go out. The TV clicks off, the fan stops blowing, and you wait a minute to see if everything is going to come back on. You wait five minutes – then 10 – and after a little bit you start to realize that it looks like your power won't be restored as soon as you would like. What now?
Power outages are anything but convenient, and many things need to happen to prevent additional issues. In this case, preparation and strategic living are the best tactics for "survival." Here are some power outage tips and tricks!
Light Sources. Once you've realized the power isn't coming back on, it's important that you have light sources nearby. A flashlight isn't helpful if you don't have any light to find it. You can use your phone, flashlights, and candles (be aware of the fire risk). If you have outdoor, solar-powered lighting, you can bring them inside as an additional light source. If the power outage is long term, you can place the solar-powered lights back outside during the day when you may not need them as much, and then bring them inside when it gets dark.
Determine Reach of Power Outage. Is it just your home or is your whole street without power? This is important information to identify as you decide what your next step is. Be sure to report the outage to your power company so they can hopefully assist you sooner.
Unplug Appliances. As soon as your power goes out, unplug as many appliances as you can. This can help prevent a power surge when the power comes back on. However, if there is a surge, having your appliances unplugged can prevent appliance damage.
Keep Fridge/Freezer Closed. If you don't want a fridge and freezer full of rotten food, this one is very important! If need be, tape your fridge and freezer shut as a reminder to you and your family not to open them up unnecessarily. Food in a freezer can last around 48 hours before the food starts going bad, whereas an unopened fridge will only keep food cold for 4 hours.
Eat Perishable Items from Fridge. If you want to avoid food going to waste, eat perishable items as quickly as possible. Keep in mind, if you want to keep everything else cold, open the fridge very sparingly. Perhaps decide what you need before opening the fridge, so you don't have to open it again for the remainder of the outage.
Keep Devices Charged. Especially in potential emergency situations, it's important to keep your cell phone and other devices charged. You can do so by charging your phone in your car or by using portable chargers. When possible, save your phone battery!
Regulate Indoor Temperatures. Depending on the season, you will have to take various measures to regulate the temperature in your home. If you're experiencing a winter power outage, you can do things like utilize your fireplace, stay in one area of the house, block drafts, keep doors closed, and close your blinds. On the other hand, if you're in a summer power outage, you can do things like opening windows at night to allow cool air in, take a cool shower or bath, and stay in lower or interior rooms.
Hurray! Your power is back on – what next?
Throw Out Perishable Food. Now that your power is back on, you may need to throw out some food depending on how long you were without power. If it was for over 4 hours, you likely need to clean out your fridge and start over.
Wait to Plug in Appliances. Ready to plug everything in? You might want to hold off a few minutes. If there is a power surge, it can damage your devices. If everything seems to be stable, feel free to plug in anything you may need and get back to normal life.
Not many people are a fan of power outages. Though it may seem "fun" for a few minutes, it gets old very quickly as you try to take a shower in the dark, navigate how to make food for your family, and ponder how you would have survived pre-electricity. As we roll into tornado season, make sure you're prepared for whatever may come your way. If living with electricity isn't for you, contact us and we can give you more information on what it would look like to have a Generac generator installed at your home.
We hope y'all stay safe!