Health & Safety

August 10, 2012

What would you do during a power outage?

by Robert J. Kaschak
452 AMW emergency management technician

Summertime in southern California means long days and scorching hot temperatures. While we bask in the sun and enjoy the season, the downside is the increased usage of electricity and the drain it puts on resources and systems, that allow us to continuing operating under, sometimes-extreme conditions. The Midwest and east coast have been hit hard this year with torrid temperatures, intense thunderstorms and blackouts in areas, lasting for days. Comparatively to date, we have been fortunate in our area, but with the summer only half-gone, the potential is high for the region to experience similar occurrences.

Power outages cause a number of safety concerns. Being cognizant of the possibility is fundamental in preparation for this type of occurrence.

During an outage:

  • Stay alert and calm
  • Use flashlights or light sticks for lighting (use caution with candles indoors)
  • Turn off appliances
  • Listen to radio for information
  • Check on those with disabilities

After an outage:

  • Continue to conserve energy
  • Reset/turn-on all electrical equipment with caution

Don’ts:

  • Do not call 911 unless it is life threatening
  • Stop at all non-working traffic signals and proceed when safe. Do not assume other drivers will stop for you
  • Do not use oven for heating (fire hazard and potential carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • Do not use barbecue or propane indoors for heating or cooking

Some general tips:

  • Have flashlights, radios and clocks with extra batteries
  • If you have a generator, read the instructions and know how to operate safely
  • Plan ahead with your neighborhood watch group and/or community Emergency Response team
  • Know how to operate garage door without electricity
  • Have a non-cordless telephone in case of an electrical outage
  • Have a working, non-electric smoke detector (battery powered)
  • Use stairs instead of elevators during outages

In addition to awareness, here are some tips to conserve energy:

  • Set thermostat at 78 degrees in summer, and 68 degrees in winter
  • Do not use large appliances such as air conditioner, pool pump, clothes washer and electric dryer at the same time
  • Close drapes/blinds to keep heat/cold out
  • Weather strip doors and windows
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs

Planning for a disaster is a very difficult process. One must be brutally honest about needs, define limitations, procure suitable supplies, educate family members, have realistic expectations and stay informed. Most people think it will never happen to them, and, unfortunately, find out otherwise.

Be proactive and prepare now. The small amount of effort you expend in preparation will come back to you many times over if something actually happens. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be ready and do your part to conserve and be responsible.




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