Emergency Preparedness – How to Prepare for An Electrical Power Outage

In the February issue of the Seashore News, it was announced that the Board of Directors has established a NSCA Emergency Preparedness Committee. Its primary intent is to provide information and resources to keep our residents up to date on measures they can take to prepare for various emergencies and home safety.

We plan to use monthly updates in the Seashore News and on the Website (www.niguelshores.org) to bring to bring useful suggestions and tips on how we can all be better prepared for unexpected events. We chose our first topic as:

How to Prepare for Electrical Power Outages: How about a little quiz to start us off?

1. How long will a power outage last?

2. How will we/I communicate with people outside my home?

3. What will I do to see better after darkness?

4. What will I do if my refrigerator/freezer doesn’t have power?

5. What if I need to get my car out of the garage?

6. How will I keep cool/warm if it’s Winter or Summer?

7. How will I be able to cook if I don’t have a gas range/oven?

Think you have answers to these questions? Check out some of the suggestions below:

1. Many power outages are a result of our local utility having a defect in a generating plant or to regulate electricity in a high usage environment such as extremely hot weather. This could last for a brief period or many hours or even days, thus the reason to be prepared.

2. To communicate with someone outside your home you should consider having a cell phone or pager. If you have a computer, keep it backed up regularly and consider buying extra batteries if you use a laptop. Also, having a DC converter allows most laptops to be run off the cigarette lighter in a vehicle. Make sure you have a battery powered radio/alarm clock or one that uses a hand crank or solar power. And, of course, don’t hesitate to walk next door to get assistance from a neighbor. Remember too, if you have to leave home, keep your car half full of gas since gas stations can’t pump gas without electricity.

3. You should have more than one flashlight with fresh backup batteries. Candles are a good reserve but make sure they are on the right surface and anchored to insure stability. Don’t forget to have matches! You can also purchase lights that plug into outlets and come on in power outages and last for a number of hours. Not a bad idea to turn on one light so you will be alerted to when the power comes back on. For more elaborate backups you might consider portable generators or inverters, but these come at higher costs and other considerations such as gasoline storage and the need to operate outdoors.

4. Some important tips for using your refrigerator if the power goes out: if it’s only several hours it shouldn’t be a problem. Grouping items closer together in your refrigerator will slow warming. Consider using some plastic containers full of water in your freezer so they will keep food cold longer or if you want to move them to a small ice chest to keep medications cold if that’s a requirement. Also, keep the fridge & freezer doors closed as much as possible to conserve temperature.

5. Many of us have electric garage door openers that would be inoperable without power. Make sure you know how to disengage the mechanism that raises & lowers the door before you attempt to open or close the door. However, many doors are heavy and difficult to open or close manually. Ask that weight lifter next door to help if you must get your car out. Also, some newer garage door openers have backup batteries if you’re considering buying a new opener.

6. In cold weather you can rely on things you already have in the closet: coats, sweaters, blankets. How about a gas or log burning fireplace? When it’s hot, open the windows in warm weather and use some battery powered fans. Sitting on the patio at night under the stars wouldn’t be so bad either. 🙂

7. What if you can’t cook without power…. Rough it for a few hours. Fire up the gas grill. BUT, don’t forget to have a manual can opener to open those canned good for you and your pets. AND, keep a corkscrew for that bottle of wine with candlelight and some conversation until the power comes back on.

We certainly haven’t covered all the bases on being 100 per cent prepared for a range of emergencies we might face in our homes. But, we hope this first edition from the (EPC) Emergency Preparedness Committee stimulates your desire and need for being better prepared. Talk to you next month.

— Kent Wellbrook