Tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, and extreme weather events can easily knock out power in your home. What should you do in case of a power outage?
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tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flooding and extreme weather events can easily knock out power in your home. Even an animal or too many AC units on the power grid can cause a power outage. What should you do in case of a power outage? That's what we'll talk about in this episode. Welcome to typical prepping the podcast dedicated to everyday readiness and disaster preparedness. We're here to help those folks who seek to start their own disaster preparedness plan, or those who have gotten started, but are not quite sure where or how to take the next steps. Each week, I'll present a disaster preparedness topic with actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to start or grow your personal disaster preparation. Thanks for stopping by to listen today. Hey, folks, I'm Keith and welcome to typical prepping. In this episode, we'll talk about what you should do before, during and after a power outage. Today, we take a lot for granted including our motor vehicles, indoor plumbing, sewage, the internet and running water. We've all probably taken for granted more than anything else the one utility that makes our luxurious modern lives possible, electricity. In the past few years, you may have noticed that power outages are becoming increasingly more common. Our power grid has become significantly more vulnerable to direct attack, or natural disasters. Storms are actually the top reason for power outages in the United States. Severe Weather actually costs the US economy up to $33 billion per year in lost wages, damaged inventory, delayed production, and grid damage. A power outage can disrupt communications, water, transportation, close retail stores, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services and cause food spoilage, water contamination and prevent the use of medical devices. So how do we prepare for a power outage? No matter the emergency. Be ready with a disaster supply kit like that detailed in Episode Four, the basic emergency supply kit that should include water, at least a three day supply of non perishable food and things like a manual can opener, flashlights and extra batteries, including a backup battery bank for your cell phone. To fully prepare for a power outage, also include extra battery or solar powered lanterns, headlights, Chemlights and emergency candles and take note, Care should be taken when using lighting devices that require an open flame such as candles or camping Lanterns. Now take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. The two biggest ones that come to mind are medical devices and refrigeration. You can talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medicine can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life. Be sure to plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out. It's also wise to install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home. You want to determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last. Be sure to review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member and use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you know the temperature when the power is restored. And be sure to throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher. I've compiled a list of items to be used in a power outage kit so that you can build your own power outage kit. Feel free To add any additional items you feel fit your particular situation. You need some type of container to store your items in. This can be an old ammo can, a five gallon bucket, a storage tote or other suitable container. Now this kit is intended to be an add on to your basic emergency supplies kit. In most cases, a power outage is usually short lived and you can use your food that's in your cabinets or in your refrigerator first, before getting into your basic emergency supplies kit. Now some of the items that I've listed for the power outage kit are emergency candles, preferably the 50 our emergency candles for lighting, matches and a cigarette lighter. I always recommend that you have two means of making fire and flashlights, which would be at least one flashlight for each person in the household. Along with spare batteries, which can be stored in Ziploc bags, a battery powered or solar powered Lantern, Chemlights, a cell phone backup battery bank, with spare cords, refrigerator and freezer thermometers. A sterno type campstove with extra fuel. The reason I recommend this one is because the sterno type campstove can be used indoors without high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. You may want to store extra mess kits and utensils for each person.,hand and foot warmers ,emergency rain ponchos ,a small first aid kit ,emergency blankets at least one for each person in the household ,an ink pen and notebook ,puzzle books, a deck of cards, a manual can opener and Kleenex and other small comfort items. Some other items that you may want to store alongside a power outage kit or you can use this as an optional equipment list is a portable heater, preferably kerosene or the type that run on the small propane bottles. You'll need extra fuel for your portable heater. A battery powered personal fan, such as those made for camping that run on battery power and extra batteries. A cooking grate, this could be for outdoor open fire cooking, or you can also buy cooking grates that will fit in your fireplace and use your fireplace as a means of cooking. You may want extra extension cords if you're using a generator. You may want to purchase or build a solar charging station to charge your telephone or to charge rechargeable batteries. I'll put a link in the show notes so that you can get a free copy of the power outage kit checklist. So let's talk about surviving during a power outage. During a power outage, you want to keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Keep in mind that the refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours, and a full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. You can use coolers with ice if necessary, and monitor the temperatures with a thermometer. Be sure to maintain your food supplies that do not require refrigeration. And avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators. Camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home as they pose a carbon monoxide threat. If you have one, you can cook on your wood stove or fireplace. You can heat canned soup and boil water for tea and instant coffee. Be sure to check on your neighbors, especially older adults or families with young children as they are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures. If the heat or cold is extreme, you could consider going to a community shelter in the event of a power outage. Many of these have backup generators and do have power. Be sure that during the power outage, you turn off or disconnect appliances equipment or electronics because when power returns, it may return with momentary surges or spikes that can cause damage to your electronics. Now a few words about generators, you can run the most critical household equipment with a generator rated at 5000 to 7500 watts. These include things like a well pump, refrigerator and freezer, and lighting circuits. A generator with around 7500 running watts can run all these appliances at once. Keep in mind when you buy a generator, you want to look at the running watts, and not the rated watts. Some of them will say that they're rated at 9000 watts. But if you look closely, there will also be another number out beside it usually 7500 watts. That's the running watts. Some other considerations when using generators are gasoline storage. Most of us think of emergency situation lasting three days or 72 hours, you'd have to have enough gasoline stored to last for 72 hours. And this gasoline must be kept in an approved container. And gasoline does have a shelf life of approximately one year. This can be extended with a gasoline stabilizer additive. Again, be sure to keep the generator at least 20 feet away from windows, and you may want to consider some type of noise dampening barrier around the generator. Just be sure to use heavy duty power cords. And you can also have a qualified electrician set up a generator or emergency circuit to power certain circuits in your home for emergencies. Then all you have to do is bring out the generator, start it and plug it into an outside plug on the house and it will generate electricity through those emergency circuits. Depending on the time of year, we need to know how to stay warm or stay cool. In cold weather, Select one room in which people and pets can spend most of their time together. Pick a room with few or no windows to the north for maximum heat during the day and layer up with warm clothing. You can drape all your windows with blankets comforters, quilts, or movers blankets, and uncover south facing windows during the day to let in the sun's warmth. You may also remember when we talked about putting together the emergency kit putting plastic and duct tape for sealing off rooms for sheltering in place. This plastic can be used to barrier off sections of the home that you're not using, and to keep the warmth into a smaller area where you may be living during a power outage, especially for an extended period of time. Once again, never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. And never use your oven as a source of heat. And you may consider purchasing a small propane or kerosene heater for emergency use. Just keep in mind you'll have to have some way to store a kerosene and you'll have to have enough kerosene to last at least the 72 hours or longer. For propane storage. Usually those propane heaters take the small tanks. You can find those propane tanks, the small ones in many sporting goods stores on sale throughout the summer, stock up on those and put those away. You'll need at least three feet of clearance all the way around either type of these heaters. And keep in mind depending on your specific heater they may be built so that you can use the tops of the heaters for light cooking or heating water or heating up soup. In warmer weather. If you have a basement utilize it as basements tend to remain cool year round. You can open windows to help circulate air throughout the home if that's possible, and make a list in advance of shelters and hotels in case you need to evacuate. And what do we do if we lose water. Whenever extreme weather threatens fill up your tub with water. This can be used for washing and for flushing the toilet. But take note that if you expect temperatures to drop below freezing inside your home. Avoid filling up the tub, you could end up with a frozen and cracked bathtub. In cold climates with snow, pack fresh snow in buckets and bring it indoors to melt. In winter months, keep pipes from freezing by turning on a slow trickle of water. You can help To protect your water pipes from freezing by wrapping them in layers of newspaper, and then wrapping with plastic wrap. Once the power outage is over, there are some safety considerations that we must take. The first is to throw away any food that's been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that have an unusual odor, color or texture. These would be the foods that were left in the refrigerator or freezer. And remember the old adage, when in doubt, throw it out. If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated unless the drugs label says otherwise. And consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately for a new supply. And make sure that you've put out any candles and kerosene lamps or gas lamps that you use during the outage, as these could pose a fire hazard if left unattended. And remember to always stay away from downed power lines. Well, as you can see, you can be prepared for a power outage by stocking the right supplies, following basic safety measures, and having a plan for dealing with the after effects. If you haven't made an emergency plan for your family, check out episodes number two, number three and number four, the family emergency communication plan, financial disaster planning and the basic emergency supply kit. And be sure to see the show notes for those episodes and download the necessary documents to help make your plan. For convenience. I've left a link to those episodes in the resources section of the show notes for this show, along with a link for the free PDF for the power outage kit. Well that's it for this episode, folks. Join me next week for another preparedness topic. And until then, stay safe and be prepared! If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. leave us a review on Apple podcasts. 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