No matter where you live in Florida, you cannot escape power outages. Residents from Sarasota to the Tampa Bay region can expect at some point in the year, the lights will go out. We normally associate this with large storms or hurricanes that cause widespread damage, like Michael or Irma, but outages can occur for any reason and you need to be prepared.
If you have your hurricane emergency kit ready, you’ll be one step ahead, but there’s more that can be done. Keep reading to see what you need to know to be prepared before and during a power outage.
Old School Prep Work: Batteries, Radios, and Flashlights
Life becomes primitive without electricity. You won’t be able to access the internet and your cell phone network might go down too. To stay up-to-date on what is happening, get a battery-powered radio.
To prevent that radio from dying and leaving you just as uninformed as before, have backup batteries on hand. You’ll also want batteries for other appliances you plan on using, like your carbon-monoxide detector and flashlights.
Candles are popular choices for light during an outage, but they’re also a fire hazard. LED flashlights, like any of these, are a safer alternative.
Garage doors are also something people don’t typically think about until they can’t use them because of an outage. If yours did not come with a battery backup, you can purchase one. However, these systems have very limited lifespans and will need to be installed.
Don’t Go Hungry or Thirsty
Power outages have the tendency of happening at the worst possible moment. The last thing you want is to be hungry on top of that. Have bottled water ready (1 gallon per person per day) and a stash of non-perishable foods. Energy bars, peanut butter, canned tuna, and cereal are some of your options. This Consumer Reports article about feeding your family during an outage has other ideas worth considering.
Keep Your Food Safe
If you have time to prepare beforehand, the Red Cross recommends filling a cooler or coolers with ice to store food and using a thermometer to monitor temperature.
Otherwise, limit the number of times you open the fridge and freezer. Food will keep for about four hours in an unopened fridge. How long food will keep in the freezer depends on how much is in there. You have about 48 hours for a full freezer and 24 for a half-full one.
After power is restored, if food has stayed at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit it should be safe, but throw out any food with an unusual odor or if you are unsure it is still good.
The power won’t be out forever (it just feels that way) and you’ll want to be ready for when it does come back on. Unplugging your appliances protects them from power surges when the electricity is back. In some cases, this can be hazardous. For instance, your stove could have been on when the power went out. As you deal with the outage, you forget to turn the knob to the “off” position. When power is restored, the burner comes on too, possibly causing damage.
Check on Neighbors
Look in on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly. Very old and very young people are more vulnerable to extreme heat. Make sure they are alright and have everything they need. Plus, if your outage isn’t weather-related, visiting the neighbors will help you gauge how many people are affected.
Try to Have Fun
If the outage isn’t widespread, head somewhere else for a bit. However, driving is not recommended for widespread outages since traffic and street lights will also be out. There could also be debris or downed trees in the road if the outage is storm-related which could make driving dangerous.
For those stuck at home, consider activities that don’t require power, like board games, cards, or books.
Install a Home Standby Generator
Don’t want to deal with any of these headaches? Consider installing a generator for your home. It will kick within seconds of an outage, saving you from worrying about food storage, wondering if you have all the batteries and flashlights you need, and can even power the A/C. (Although you should still check on your neighbors).
Call GenerX today to learn more about your options:
Pinellas: (727) 938-8473
Hillsborough: (813) 814-5900
South-West Florida: (941) 621-6659
Or you can email us at: [email protected]