During virtually any disaster, you will eventually experience a power outage. The large majority of power outages only last for a few hours and are usually caused by smaller storms. This does not mean you should not be prepared for longer-term power outages however. Hurricanes and other disasters have been known to create power outages that can last the better part of a month.
What to Do
It is a good idea to unplug large electronics and other devices that are not protected by a surge protector. You also need to make sure that you are disconnected from your main electrical grid if you are using a back-up generator. Check your neighbor’s houses as well to see if your power outage is an isolated event. Avoid opening your refrigerator; keeping it closed will keep the food colder for a longer period. Food typically will last between four and six hours once the power is disrupted. Frozen foods will be good up to 48 hours if you do not open the freezer door continually.
Driving During a Power Outage
If power is out and you decide to evacuate, you need to make sure you take a few precautions. First, unplug all the electronics and power systems before evacuating. You should try to take a route that has a small amount of traffic lights. Traffic is going to be a disaster in and of itself especially with traffic lights not operational and possible damage to roads, bridges and highways. Also, be on the lookout for downed power lines and trees along with other debris on the roadways.
If you do not already have a generator, you should really consider buying at least a small starter generator. Generators are ideal during disasters and having the ability to generate even a small amount of power can increase your overall odds of survival dramatically.
Gas generators are very flammable and need to be operated outside or in a highly ventilated area. Gasoline is very hard to store and some laws actually prevent you from storing gasoline containers indoors, so be sure to check your local laws if you are going to be storing large amounts of gasoline at home. Propane and diesel on the other hand are easier to store and can be stored for several years before they begin to deteriorate in any way. Once again, you need to check with local laws and your home insurance companies for any storage rules and guidelines for these fuel sources.
What Generator Size Do I Need
The size of your generator will depend on your goals and what you want and what you need to operate during a power outage. Sizes will range from small, which can power a few smaller devices, all the way up to large which can power your whole house or RV.
Small starter generators are great for camping or you want a smaller generator to use during a disaster. These generators are ideal because they are relatively inexpensive and can produce between 1000-4000 watts of electricity, which is enough to power a few small appliances. They are lightweight and easy to carry and subsequently move around.
Medium or Mid Size Generators
The next step on the generator scale is the mid-sized unit. These can range anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 watts of power. This amount of electricity can operate larger appliances such as your refrigerator and air conditioning and heating units. These units are larger and usually have wheels to make them easier to move around, but they are by no means considered portable.
These generators are responsible for generating huge amounts of electricity. Some are considered in line or stationary units. They can produce between 15,000-30,000 watts of electricity, which is enough to power a small home for an extended period. These generators usually need to be professionally installed and the power company must be made aware that you have one.
Generator Supply Kit
One mistake some Preppers make is by not having a generator supply kit. Once the power goes out then you have to try to find the parts needed to get the generator up and running. This puts you in a perilous situation when the generator breaks down or needs a spare part. Make sure your generator supply kit is always nearby and stocked with parts that you can change out yourself.
Make sure you test your generator and practice using it before disaster strikes. Test out how much power you need and what appliances you can operate using just the generator. Make sure you regularly change the oil and always check fluid levels before starting it up. Always use your generator in an openly ventilated are and never use it indoors. Do not overload your extension cords and never pour fuel directly into a hot engine.
Why Less Is More
When operating your generator, you always want to apply the motto less is more. First, you never know how long a power outage will last and fuel is a precious resource. Additionally generators are loud and they will make it easier for others to find your location. The main purpose of your generator should be to keep your freezer/refrigerator running. Your refrigerator will still keep your food cool if it operated just five percent of the time. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature and power up as needed because you should always try to keep your generator use to an absolute minimum.