One thing every Florida resident knows is the risk of losing power in a power outage. Yes, there are the regular hurricanes that threaten the power infrastructure we must deal with every year. However, as his year has shown many of us, hurricanes are not the only threat to keeping power at our home.
What would you do if you lost power for several days, several weeks, or even longer? While this not something we see every year, it remains a significant threat for most of the state.
The best time to prepare for these kinds of power outages is to plan ahead, and know your options. Waiting until there is storm on the horizon leaves you likely unable to find what you need. Here are some tips for ensuring you are ready this year before trouble starts brewing.
Preparing For Long-Term Power Outage
When you think about preparing for the possibility of losing electric service due to a power outage, the best option is to consider some form of backup generator. Before you run out to the store and grab one that is on sale, you need to consider your power needs.
First, think about what you parts of your house you want to continue powering. Do you just want to power your refrigerator or freezer? Or do you want to provide power to your entire home so you don’t notice there is a problem? There are many calculators available to help you determine the electric output you will need based on your usage.
Next, consider your costs. Yes, there is the initial cost of purchasing your unit. However, you should also consider the cost of running it. Do you have to store fuel, or is it tied into a reliable fuel service?
Once you determine how you want to use your generator, it is time to consider the kind you will have on hand. There are two primary types you may consider: a portable unit and a permanently installed backup generator.
The portable units usually supply less electricity and either run on propane or gasoline. In either of these cases, you need to ensure you have enough fuel on hand to keep it running. These fuels can become very difficult to find after power goes out. These also require some knowledge of how to tie your appliances into them when power does go out. At a minimum, you will likely need a few high-capacity extension cords.
You can also opt for a permanently installed automatic backup generator. These usually power more of your house, so you can continue going about your normal activities. These units will commonly tap into your gas line, so you don’t have to worry about fuel. Some systems run on diesel fuel, or a combination of diesel and natural gas.
Keeping Your Generator Ready
Once you invest in a backup system to handle a power outage, you want to be sure it is ready when you need it. With a few simple practices, you can rest more easily your system will perform when you call upon it.
First, you need to make sure you know how to operate your unit. Even if it is an automatic system, you want to make sure you know the overrides and some of the basic problems you may need to troubleshoot.
To help with these, plan to test your unit monthly. This not only gives you practice ensuring you are ready, but if there is a problem, it gives you time to fix it before it is needed.
Understand what the switch will be like should your unit engage be needed. This includes the timing for it to start, and if there is anything you should do in your home to prepare before it starts up.
If you have a system that requires you adding fuel, use caution to not spill the fuel. If you do, you can both damage your unit, as well as risk creating a fire hazard.
Be sure to consider the ventilation needed for running your unit properly. Do not install the unit where it may vent exhaust where it will enter your home. If you have opted to run a portable unit, be sure you run it outside to prevent dangerous fumes in your home.
Other Things To Consider
Be sure you think beyond a backup power supply. Keep a flashlight and fresh batteries where you can easily get them. Also, keep at least a 3-day supply of food and water available. Water is the most critical, and you should plan for at least a gallon per day per person. Also, a solar or crank-powered emergency radio is a must so you can stay atop of emergency situation broadcasts.