Alayna Okerlund

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

hanging lightOur reliance on energy also make us susceptible to power outages. These outages are most often the repercussion of unavoidable natural disasters. According to insideenergy.org, the number of power outages has greatly increased over time.

  • Between 2000 and 2004, the average number of power outages in the United States was 44

  • 130 power outages were reported within the first six months of 2014

The number continues to rise due to the impact of the growing human population and “more frequent extreme weather.” Although power outages are a part of life, here are a few ways you can be prepared for them.

Stock up on your resources

Regardless of where you live, you need to stock up on the following resources and necessities to help you prepare for a potential power outage or natural disaster:

  • Batteries

  • Reliable generator

  • Ice/freezer water containers/thermometer

  • Gas (for your car, generator, tools, etc.)

  • Emergency preparedness kits (including first aid supplies, flashlights, tools, etc.)

  • Clothing for various weather conditions

  • Non-refrigerated foods/coolers

  • Radio

Don’t forget about safety

In a power outage, some people panic and forget to institute safety procedures. The redcross.org website suggests a few safety tips to keep in mind for family, pets, and others:

  • Use a flashlight instead of candles to reduce the risk of a hazardous fire

  • Try not to use transportation specifically at night to avoid collisions as street lights may not work in the outage

  • Be cautious when using a generator as it increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fire

  • Check temperatures of perishable foods before consumption

  • Do not come in contact with downed power lines (stay far away as possible)

Before a power outage occurs, create a detailed plan for family members that explains safety measures.

Conserve energy

Although many power outages are caused by natural disasters such as storms, some power outages are caused by the abuse or misuse of energy within the electrical system. If the power supply can not meet the demand, the overall system will lag or fail. According to redcross.org, the following conservation tips can reduce the risk of an overwhelmed electrical grid:

  • Unplug appliances that are not being used. Many common appliances use energy when they are plugged in. Use easily turned off power strips instead.
  • Do not overuse the air conditioning/heating system. The more you use these systems, the more power you are consuming. Keeping usage down will help keep costs down and lower the risk of power outages.
  • Try alternative washing habits. Try washing clothing with cold water and air drying when possible.
  • Be smart in the kitchen. Use the microwave instead of the oven as it requires less energy. Also, try running the dishwasher only when it is full and air dry your dishes.
  • Use energy efficient lighting. Try using natural lighting before electrical lighting whenever possible. When electrical lighting is used, purchase energy efficient light bulbs.

To know more about the energy you are using, consult with either the utility or deregulated energy company you are using. Most utility providers have more specific information for you concerning the amount of power you use and what happens if a power outage occurs.

No matter what energy market, company, or plan you use, you'll probably experience power outages at some point. However, they don’t need to be a traumatic event if you are prepared.

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