How to pre­pare for a long out­age af­ter the storm

Cecil Whig - - OURCECIL -

— As win­ter storm sea­son ar­rives, home­own­ers should be ready for power out­ages that last for days or even weeks.

In re­cent years, storms have be­come more in­tense and fre­quent, re­sult­ing in ex­tended power out­ages, which is dis­rup­tive to daily life. A re­cent study by Lawrence Berke­ley Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory and Stanford Univer­sity looked at 13 years of weather and util­ity data. The study re­vealed power in­ter­rup­tions last 75 per­cent longer in years that were both ab­nor­mally windy and had a ma­jor weather event.

Bl­iz­zards, heavy snow, ice storms and strong winds can all con­spire to cut off the power sup­ply to your home, leav­ing your fam­ily in the dark and in the cold. It is im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict when an ex­tended power out­age will im­pact your com­mu­nity, how­ever, there are things you can do to­day to keep your fam­ily safe and com­fort­able. Now is the time to pre­pare be­fore the first win­ter storms set­tle in.

“An ex­tended power loss in the win­ter can dam­age your home and put your fam­ily at risk,” says Ed Del Grande,


a home im­prove­ment TV host, au­thor and syn­di­cated colum­nist. “Wa­ter pipes can freeze. Houses can quickly fill up with dan­ger­ous levels of car­bon monox­ide from al­ter­na­tive heat­ing and cook­ing sources. And food can spoil quickly in the re­frig­er­a­tor. That’s why it’s smart to plan ahead for a power out­age so you can get through the days safely and com­fort­ably.”

Here are some tips to help home­own­ers pre­pare for an ex­tended power out­age:

Have enough food, wa­ter

Store enough to eat and drink for one week. Even if the stores are open, you’ll want to keep out­side travel to a min­i­mum, es­pe­cially in tough road con­di­tions. If you are us­ing well wa­ter, be ready for the fact that a power out­age will stop your wa­ter pump. Have an ad­e­quate sup­ply of wa­ter on hand — about one gal­lon per per­son per day. Stock­pile plenty of non-per­ish­able food, such as canned meats and veg­eta­bles, pro­tein bars, dry ce­real and nuts. Be sure you have a man­ual can opener and a means to cook, such as a propane-op­er­ated camp stove — just be sure your cook­ing space is prop­erly ven­ti­lated.

Have safe backup light­ing

To re­duce risk of fire, swap out can­dles and kerosene lanterns for bat­tery­op­er­ated flash­lights and lamps. Stock up now on bat­ter­ies be­fore peo­ple de­plete lo­cal sup­plies in the prestorm rush. In­vest in a gen­er­a­tor A ready power source could help your fam­ily get through longer out­ages in safety and com­fort, in spite of the cold tem­per­a­tures out­side. Dur­ing a win­ter storm, es­pe­cially a bit­ter cold one with strong winds, the tem­per­a­ture in­side your home can drop quickly. There are two backup power op­tions for the home: a por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tor or an au­to­matic standby gen­er­a­tor.

A por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tor can be moved from place-toplace and is de­signed to power a hand­ful of items in your home via ex­ten­sion cords. It must be man­u­ally op­er­ated and placed out­doors away from the home to avoid the po­ten­tial for car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing.

A standby gen­er­a­tor turns on au­to­mat­i­cally when the power shuts off and 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 fuel lines in your home. A standby gen­er­a­tor will keep all your ap­pli­ances run­ning, as well as ev­ery­thing else you take for granted: lights, tele­vi­sion, com­put­ers, wa­ter heater, fur­nace and more. If you’re in­ter­ested in learn­ing about au­to­matic standby power sys­tems, visit www. KohlerGen­er­a­ for in­for­ma­tional videos and other help­ful de­tails. Plan for be­ing cut off When the power goes out, it can be hard to an­tic­i­pate all the im­pli­ca­tions. Stores may re­open, but they may not be able to process your debit or credit card right away. So keep enough cash to see you through a few days. Think of any med­i­ca­tions your fam­ily would need and set aside a week’s sup­ply. Fi­nally, trans­fer es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion you have stored in your mo­bile phone to pa­per, such as phone num­bers and ad­dresses. You may have to go man­ual with nav­i­ga­tion, so pick up pa­per road maps of your state or re­gion from the ser­vice sta­tion.

“De­spite all the fore­cast­ing tech­nol­ogy we have to­day, storms can pop up with lit­tle warn­ing,” Del Grande says. “Get­ting ready to­day is the key step to pro­tect­ing your loved ones when the storm hits.”

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