Friday, July 1, 2022 / by Laura Larson
While all power outages involve the same thing, a total loss of electricity, what you need varies slightly depending on the season. Did the power suddenly go out during a winter storm? Or was this a planned power outage on a 110-degree day? We’ll help you prepare for a power outage whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, so you’re ready for it all.
A power outage can occur due to many reasons. There may be a downed power line from a recent ice storm or it may be a planned outage to prevent a blackout during the hot summer months.
The main culprit is often weather-related like high winds, freezing rain, snow accumulation, or anything that causes a power line to fall or freeze. However, power outages can also stem from human error, overuse/overload, intentional brownouts, and rolling blackouts. Human error is usually a preventable issue whether it’s caused by someone not doing their job properly or a construction issue that causes a power line to fall. Overuse or overload is when a power grid is overwhelmed by demand and stops working.
Intentional brownouts are a drop in voltage often used to prevent overload during periods of high electricity usage. Similarly, rolling blackouts are planned temporary outages used to prevent an overload. These intentional brownouts or blackouts are common during heat waves, especially if you’re living in California.
Preparing for a power outage is critical. When a power outage occurs, it can be chaotic trying to find your essentials, but it doesn’t have to be if you’ve prepared sufficiently.
3. Turn off appliances and lights
4. Keep windows and doors closed
5. Keep your gas tank full or your car charged
Tips for summer power outages
You can also utilize blinds or curtains by keeping them shut to block out the sun from heating up the inside of your home. Make sure that you’re using blackout shades rather than traditional curtains as these will help keep the air cool.
It’s always a good idea to keep plenty of blankets on hand to keep warm, especially if you do need to stay in your home or can’t leave due to weather-related issues. If you live with others, staying in the same room can help keep body heat in the space.
If it’s dark in the house it’s best to use battery-powered lights and flashlights. While it may seem like a good idea to use candles, just make sure you position them in safe areas where they can’t be knocked over or next to anything flammable.
When the power goes out, your pipes are more likely to freeze, so it’s important to winterize your pipes ahead of time. If you’re unable to do so before a storm happens, turn off the main valve (if safe) to prevent pipes from bursting and flooding your home.
What to do when the power returns
You should also throw out any expired or unsafe foods that were left in the refrigerator and freezer. Cold food items should not be above 40 degrees F, but you can double-check items with a food thermometer to be sure. However, if you’re questioning if an item, such as meat or dairy, is still edible then you should throw it out to stay safe.
In the summer, you may be tempted to immediately turn your AC on to the lowest temperature as soon as the power returns. To prevent another overload, you’ll want to turn your fans on first to circulate air. Then set your air conditioner to a temperature only a few degrees below your home’s temperature.
For example, if your home’s temperature is 90 degrees, you’d want to set your thermostat to 85 degrees. Once your home has cooled to 85 degrees, you can turn down the thermostat to your desired temperature.
During the winter months, you should also check for damaged or frozen pipes that may be at risk of bursting. If you see frozen or damaged pipes, turn off the main valve and call a professional to assess the situation.
There are countless things you can do to prepare for a power outage during any season of the year. While power outages are often unexpected, making sure that you have an emergency kit and an emergency plan in place can make these events less stressful.