Unless you are a practiced survivalist or prepper, Power Outage My Area is what many people search for online when they expect the power to be down for an unknown period in their hometown and area.
Coming home and flipping on the lights, walking across the living room to turn on the stereo or TV, and then heading out to the kitchen to make a quick dinner has become our modern-day routine.
But with aging and poorly maintained electrical power grids and infrastructure, what happens when a natural disaster like a tornado, civil unrest, fire, earthquake, or severe rainstorm turns into flooding strikes?
Long term power outages have become more common as the conditions that cause them have become more severe.
Are you and your family prepared to wait it out?
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This isn’t about being paranoid or waiting for the Big One. Being prepared means managing your life more comfortably during a blackout/power outage and/or a natural disaster.
It may be as short as a few minutes, or it may last a few days. By having the necessary supplies and equipment, you and your family can easily ride out the problem.
By planning, you’ll know where you need to go if you must evacuate and whether you can stay at home and ride the situation out.
If you’re in a car or some other vehicle, you can plan how you will manage if you have to stay with the vehicle.
Anything that can knock down, tear out, or short out electrical generating equipment will cause a power outage of some sort.
In heavy rain or flooding conditions, powerlines can be washed out or power generating capacity can be shorted out.
Lightning can strike and disable electrical generating equipment, creating a fire risk.
Tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes can tear down power poles and transmission powerlines and cause wind and shake damage to power-generating equipment.
Heavy snowfall can collapse power lines, and wildfires can burn down transmission lines in hard-to-reach wilderness areas.
Are There Any Other Power Outage Causes?
Be aware that problems less severe than a natural disaster can also cause problems.
A builder who’s cut through an underground power or gas line. A car crashed into a telephone or power transmission line. Simple yet very common daily issues for the power company.
Stay alert to local situations and weather conditions. Pay attention to any work being done in your neighborhood. Especially watch for any digging projects or tree trimming.
If you haven’t already, sign up for your power company’s Power Outage My Area alerts system. You’ll get notices of local blackouts. You’ll get an estimate of time until the power is restored as well as updated information on the progress of repairs.
Keep informed via a battery radio or cell phone by tuning into local news channels and the weather service in your area.
Find safe shelter ahead of time. Make sure everyone knows how to get to it.
Log in using cell data or the internet, if you have it, to your electric company, and get Power Outage My Area alerts.
Secure your area and make sure all family members are together or are safe. Check on and help the neighbors too, especially the elderly and those with disabilities.
Unplug from the mains any devices that would be harmed by a sudden surge of power. Things like your computer, other Internet-connected devices, and home entertainment equipment.
Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible. Every door opening loses cooling. The fridge can keep food cool for about 4 hours, the freezer up to 48 hours. Get an appliance thermometer and monitor the interior temperature. Once it’s 40°F/4°C or higher, the FDA recommends that you toss the food.
Leave one light or a fan switched on in a common area so that you know when the power comes back on.
If you don’t have to leave the area, it’s best to stay put. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk as well as put more of a load on the emergency systems if something should happen to you.
If the weather is extreme – heat or cold – and it’s safe, get to an emergency shelter if it has power.
If you’re ordered to evacuate, do it. Grab your Bug Out Bag and follow all instructions by emergency personnel and don’t go back to your home, business, or car until you’re given the okay.
Do not use gas stoves for cooking or heating inside your home.
Prepare a list of the items that you need that don’t require any electricity. We’ve included a list for an Emergency Power Outage Kit at the end of this article.
Then, start compiling a list of things that you can use to make your time more comfortable. Games and books are a good bet. Have toys available for the youngest and pets too.
Talk to their doctor before an emergency or natural disaster strikes. Find out whether you can buy battery backups for their devices or if they should go to the hospital instead?
We recommend that you plan and practice getting the person to whatever facility is recommended.
Check with your pharmacist if you use medication that requires refrigeration. How long can it stand temperatures outside of the refrigerator?
For emergency power over an extended period, a generator would make life more comfortable. It may only make sense if you live in an area prone to regular loss of power.
Short term and infrequent power issues might add expenses you don’t want to make. A short time in the dark may be preferable to spending money needlessly.
If you do buy an emergency generator, do the following:
You can use your car for shelter if necessary or other needs like keeping small electronics charged. But you’ll need gas. Make sure the car tank is always at least half full.
Does your nearby gas station have backup power?
If not, make sure you keep the tank full. Find out if and where you can store gas safely at home.
Consider looking for multiple gas stations for supplies to avoid crowds and waiting.
Make a checklist of the following list and mark things off as you get them together:
Right after you finish reading this post. Seriously. Sign up for Power Outage My Area alerts and be prepared before the power issues and/or adverse weather conditions occur. That way it won’t take you by surprise and you’re ready to go.
Be aware that you never know when you’ll be affected by some problem that happens miles away.
Take, as an example, the shutdown of the power grid in a large swath of the Western US in the late 1990s. Power transmission had been disrupted over 1000 miles away, yet it still left seven Western states without power for over eight hours.
Learn how to use the things that use power for convenience but have manual options. The garage door opener won’t work, but you can still open it manually with the pull cord. Practice opening it while you still have light to see and learn.
Practice the steps needed to get your generator going and where to put it. Be sure everyone knows the emergency plan and what their tasks are.
Know and practice your escape route as if you need it. Make note of where the safe locations are and how to get to them… and have Bug Out Bags at the ready!
Find your community shelter and verify it has enough power backup to support those who will use it.
Keep a good supply at home because you never know how long the conditions will last
It’s a good idea to keep a selection of supplies in a Bug Out Bag in your car as well. You may get stuck somewhere on the road and you’re going to have to stay with your vehicle for a while.
Having the necessary supplies will make that time a little more comfortable.
When the trouble is over and the environmental conditions are clear, remember to be wary about going outside. Watch for any power lines that are
Check on your family and your neighbors to make sure everyone is okay.
Are You Ready?
Waiting for Power Outage My Area alerts, eating canned goods by candlelight while wrapped up in a blanket during a blackout / power outage probably doesn’t sound romantic. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to ride out any power issue, emergency, and natural disaster that comes your way.
Now, what are you waiting for? Think like a YoYo Survivor and be smart, and BE PREPARED for when You’re On Your Own – and get to work on that Bug Out Bag Check List!
I have a love of the great outdoors and have lived in the backcountry for over 15 years. I like to practice and learn general survival skills and get educated on how to prepare for a natural disaster or emergency where my knowledge could save mine and other people's lives.