Power outages can be caused by several problems, but one of the most common is a winter storm that brings down power lines and knocks out the electricity for a whole area. And while you might expect that blackouts are decreasing with better technology, CNN reports that blackouts have actually increased by 124% in the past 20 years. With winter fast approaching, it’s a good time to brush up on how to handle power outages:
- Know How to Assess Outages
When the lights go out, the first thing you should always do is look outside to see if your entire neighborhood is dark or if it’s just your home. From there, you can narrow down the problem and figure out if you need a licensed electrician. There are a few home electrical safety tips you’ll want to keep in mind; never work on an electrical system that is live (you should turn off the power at the breaker), and you need to take extra care if you’re working in storm conditions since moisture and electricity don’t mix well. Also avoiding being overambitious by working on a system you don’t understand, since improperly repaired electrical can cause serious hazards.
- Know Where Your Flashlights Are
Having flashlights won’t do you any good if some family members don’t know where they’re stored. A small flashlight can be tucked in between the mattress and box spring of each bed in the house so that no one will need to stumble around in the dark. Before storm season each year, check that each flashlight is accompanied by an extra set of batteries. Flashlights are a better choice than candles, since there’s no risk of fire, but keeping some candles and matches in case you run out of batteries is a good idea as well.
- Have an Electrician Vetted in Advance
Once you have an electrical emergency, it may be difficult to look up local electricians and figure out which one can provide the best service. It’s a better idea to vet a few companies and have one picked out in advance so that you’ll know who to call if the lights go out. Keep the phone number written down somewhere in the house or even programmed into your cell, since your computer may not be working.
- Get a Standby Power Generator
If you have essential equipment in your home (such as medical devices), it may be a good idea to consider emergency power generators. Standby power generators can be hooked up by a licensed electrician such that they’ll come on automatically — after only 5 to 10 seconds — when the power goes out. A few home generators need to be manually started in an emergency. Make sure your generator is rated to power your home electrical system or whatever you’ll be running; if you’re not sure of what generator to choose, you can ask your residential electrician.
Are you a licensed electrician? What other tips can you provide to homeowners to keep them safe in the upcoming season? Discuss in the comments.