How Do I Prepare For a Blackout?

Experiencing a power loss is no fun for anyone. After all, our world seemingly runs completely by electricity, so a power blackout can cause major inconvenience to your daily life and even present a danger to you or your home. When a blackout or power outage happens in your area, the last thing you want is to find yourself unprepared.  We’ve rounded up four simple tips to help you prepare for a blackout and to keep you, your family, and your home safe in a worst-case scenario.

What is a blackout?

An electrical or power blackout is when an entire area or grid loses power. Blackouts are also commonly referred to as power outages, power loss, or power interruptions. The name ‘blackout’ comes from an entire area losing power (homes, businesses, street lights, etc) and therefore being blacked-out.

What causes a blackout?

There are several factors that could cause a blackout or power outage. Here are some of the most common causes of a blackout.

  • Storms & severe weather: Unfortunately for us, the weather is one thing we can’t control, and also the biggest cause of power blackouts.
    • Severe winds can blow power lines into a frenzy, and even cause them to snap or short out.
    • Heavy rains can cause flooding, which can damage electrical equipment.
    • Ice and sleet can cling to power lines causing them to break, as any native Springfield knows full-well due to the Great Ice Storm of ‘07.
  • Falling trees & limbs: If you live in an area that is heavily wooded, you probably have some beautiful views, but are also prone to power outages during storms. While storms cause enough damage on their own, strong winds and ice can cause trees tree limbs, or the entire tree, to come crashing down on power lines.
  • Animals: Small animals like squirrels like to scurry across power lines and nibble on them, damaging the power line. Critters can also crawl into transformers and cause extensive damage.
  • Human error: If a vehicle crashes into a pole, it can cause damage to the electricity pole and to the power lines. Similarly, drilling or digging into the ground can cause a power disaster if you hit underground power lines.

How can I prepare for a blackout?

If a blackout were to happen today, would you be prepared? Here’s what you can do:

 1. Know how to check the power outage map and report a power outage to your utility provider. (For Springfield residents, the City Utilities Power Outage Map is an excellent resource.)

 2. Have battery powered accessories available.

    • Flashlights & Candles: If you experience a power outage at night, you don’t want to be left in the dark. Simply having flashlights with working batteries or even candles available can make all of the difference.
    • Battery operated radio or television: If the power outage causes you to lose access to the internet, having a battery operated radio or T.V. will help you stay in the know.
    • Cell phone power bank. Often you lose power when you aren’t expecting it. Maybe you lose power and your phone’s at 10% battery. That’s not going to last you very long. Consider purchasing a power bank for your cell phone or smartphone to keep your phone running even during a power outage.

 3. Have a small stock of non-perishable food and bottled water available. Hopefully, a power blackout doesn’t last long, but outages can last anywhere from hours to days, and sometimes even weeks. Make sure to have a stock of non-perishable foods like canned goods, peanut butter, granola/protein bars, and bottled drinks like water or Gatorade, so you don’t go hungry or experience dehydration.

 4. Be prepared to deal with the weather. Without the convenience of heat or air-conditioning, the conditions in your home can get uncomfortable, and fast.

    • Summer blackout preparation: Consider using a battery-powered fan, and keeping ice packs in your freezer. These will help you cool off, and even stay cool.
    • Winter blackout preparation: Keep plenty of blankets on hand. You can use blankets to insulate windows and doors and to keep your body warm. You should also adjust your faucets to drip to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Contact us at Complete Electrical Solutions. We can help you stay safe the next time you experience a power outage.