The powerful winter storm that pounded the Northeast with gusting winds and heavy snow resulted in power failures for hundreds of thousands of people. But, it doesn't matter what part of the country you call home, everyone is susceptible to power outages, particularly when it comes to severe winter weather. Being prepared is the best defense for such energy emergencies.
Here is a list of important things you can do to ensure the safety and security of your family during this and every power outage.
Develop a weather emergency plan. The plan should include a list of important phone numbers in case you need to quickly evacuate your home (i.e. doctors, family members, etc.). The plan should also include an evacuation route, as well as an established meeting place in case you lose communication with loved ones.
Grab a backpack or purchase a large plastic bucket with a lid from a local hardware store or home center. Stuff the backpack or bucket with three days' worth of food and water. Other items should include a flashlight, battery powered/hand-cranked radio, first aid kit, money, medications and a CD or USB drive containing important documents. Store the kit in a place that is easily accessible in an emergency situation. For more tips on how to prepare for weather-related emergencies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or tornadoes, visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) at http://www.flash.org.
Turn off major appliances such as water heaters, stoves and air conditioning units. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the system when power is restored.
Leave one light on so you will be able to see when power is restored to your home.
Have a battery-operated or weather radio, multiple flashlights and a battery-operated clock and fan, along with extra batteries.
Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris. Treat all down wires and anything touching them as though they have electricity running through it!
Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward into the power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug appliances directly into the portable generator.
If you're running a portable generator, be sure to use properly rated extension cords (electrical load and length). Also, make sure the portable generator is properly vented to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not place a portable generator in your home or an enclosed space with limited ventilation like a garage or a screened porch.
Familiarize yourself with your main electrical panel. You may have to turn off the main breaker or have to reset circuit breakers after an outage.
Inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call your local utility provider.
Consider installing a commercial-grade, automatic generator for your home. An automatic generator (aka standby generator) is permanently installed outside the home similar to a central air conditioning unit. It runs on natural gas or propane and hooks up to existing gas lines. Standby generators turn on automatically when the power shuts off. A transfer switch constantly monitors utility power and transfers the electrical load to the generator if power is lost, protecting the home even if the home owner is away. A standby generator can power critical and sophisticated appliances and systems in your home, including lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems and more.
To determine if a standby generator is right for you, be sure to do your homework and look for a unit that offers some of the following:
A commercial-grade engine that provides clean, consistent power, handles heavy loads and powers up quickly.
Make sure to purchase a standby generator with a minimum five-year warranty.
Don't forget about appearance. A standby generator sits outside your home, so look for a unit with a bold, clean look that is corrosion resistant.
Some units have remote monitoring/operating capabilities. This is important for those who spend time away from home.
Source: Kohler Generators
Published with permission from RISMedia.