Your Guide to Power Outage Safety and Preparation
While most people find a candlelit dinner romantic and delightful, it tends only to be fairy tale-esque when it is a voluntary action. This kind of event tends to lose its charm from a power outage.
We have all been there. One minute everything in the house is as expected, and the next minute, everything in the place goes dark and silent. Sadly, you never know how long a power outage will last, it could be a few minutes, or it could be several days.
Whether you live in an area with frequent storms, your utility company randomly loses power, or you want to be ready just in case something happens, it is always a good idea to have a plan when a power outage occurs.
As one of the leading providers of residential and commercial electrical services in the Santa Clara Valley, Watson’s Charging Station & Electric wants you to be safe and well-prepared for the next power outage that comes your way. Read on to learn our top tips for being prepared for a power outage.
Power Outage 101
A power outage is when electricity is no longer available in your home. A true power outage, by definition, is when the loss of electricity comes from your utility provider, which means the outage will impact entire neighborhoods or regions.
If your home is experiencing an outage, but the rest of your community has the lights on, it is most likely an issue with your electrical panel, a circuit breaker, or another issue inside your home, like a power surge. A power surge is an unexpected increase in voltage, and the results could be a quick dimming of your lights or significant damage to the electronics in your home. Call your local electrician immediately if your house is the only one in the area without power.
What Causes Power Outages
Power outages can come from many sources. An outage can occur any time there is an interruption between where power is generated and where it is supplied to your community.
The most common are natural causes, human error, and overload. Scheduled maintenance or construction can also lead to an outage.
While weather is the leading cause of outages across the nation, nearly 25% of power losses in California are reported with no definitive reason, which means you could experience a power loss at any time without notice.
How Long Do Power Outages Last?
A simple power outage might end after a few seconds or minutes. If you’ve ever woken up or returned home and all of your clocks are flashing, a power outage likely occurred, and you did not even know it.
When power outages are caused by lightning, heavy winds, accidents, and so on, the outage could last longer. When there is damage to the power source or a transfer station, that damage will need to be repaired before the lights come back on. Depending on the cause of the outage and the steps required to fix it, the power could be off for days or even weekends. There are roughly 1.33 billion hours of power outages in the United States annually.
What to Do During a Power Outage
Once you realize that the power is out for you and your neighbors, the first thing you want to do is report the outage. You cannot assume that your neighbors know how to report a power outage. More importantly, the more people who report the outage, the more likely the utility company can pinpoint the location of the problem.
You can report a power outage in Gilroy, CA, by visiting this utility company’s webpage. You can also view a power outage map showing where the power loss impacts are taking place. Check with your utility company for websites, phone numbers, or apps you can use to report and track outages in your area.
During the outage, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Keep your refrigerator and freezers closed. Unnecessarily opening the fridge can lead to food going bad sooner.
Unplug electronics and appliances to avoid any potential damage from power surges caused when the power comes back on.
Do not use a gas stove/oven to heat your home. Check with your local officials about nearby locations that offer heating and cooling for those impacted by an outage.
If you use a generator, ensure it is only used outdoors and away from your windows.
Consider staying with friends, family, or at a hotel when available and appropriate.
Proper Planning Precludes Perfect Preparedness
Following your power outage preparation plan is the best way to thrive through a power outage. These are the steps you will take to ensure your family stays safe during the blackout. The key to being prepared is to plan ahead of time so that you are not scrambling once the house goes dark.
Since power surges are likely to occur when the electricity is restored, it’s worth adding point-of-use surge protectors with any major electronics or appliances like your computer, home entertainment center, electric vehicle charger, and more. You might even want to contact various electrical contractors to discuss a whole house surge protector to safeguard your entire electrical system.
Build a Power Outage Emergency Kit
An emergency kit is an excellent idea for every home. To be ready for a more extensive outage, have the following ready:
Flashlights and/or battery-powered lanterns
Extra batteries for all of your devices
Bottled water (roughly one gallon per person, per day)
Non-perishable food to last several days
First aid supplies, essential medications, and personal hygiene items
A battery-powered radio
A fully-charged battery pack (for cell phones)
Entertainment items: board games, books, or games
Create an Emergency Plan
When creating a plan for emergencies, sit down with the entire family and make sure everyone knows what to do during different situations, where supplies are kept, and who to contact during an emergency. If possible, write down the plan and keep it somewhere safe in the house, preferably posted in an easily accessible yet non-conspicuous location.
Some homeowners like having a gas generator to help during power outages. While a generator is an excellent option for short-term relief, they have limitations. For example, if your generator runs out of fuel during inclement weather, obtaining additional gasoline may not be possible or safe.
A popular and effective option to ensure you have enough power to get through an outage is to install a house battery backup system. This form of energy storage works with solar power and traditional electrical grids to give you a reserve of power to use when needed. With the right home battery backup system, you can ride out a power outage in comfort.
Be Prepared. Be Safe. Let Watson’s Help.
For more information about power outage preparation and safety, contact Watson’s Charging Stations & Electric. We are happy to help you explore your options, evaluate your current electrical situation, and offer advice for all of your electrical needs. Get an honest assessment from a team of licensed and certified electricians and call today.