Disaster Preparedness - Ready for a Power Loss?One only need look at recent weather events to conclude just how dependent we are on electricity. Hurricane Sandy brought wide spread destruction and loss of power to over a 6 million homes and businesses from NY to Ohio in early November 2012.

Question: What happens at times like this?
Answer: Hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage escalate when many of us are not prepared to deal with the aftermath of power interruption due to downed utilities and the handcuffed efforts to restore power following a storm.

The following are examples of what can and does happen following a wide spread power outage:

  1. Utilities can often go down for days if not weeks at a time.
  2. Fires can result from damaged power lines and power surges.
  3. Downed trees can delay power from being restored and slow service from 1st responders.
  4. Power companies do not make repairs to home power connection – just from street to home.
  5. Basements flood from failed sump pumps and sewer drain lines can back-up.
  6. Local resources reach max capacity within hours following a storm – including EMS contractors.
  7. Cell phones may not work due to overloaded circuits.
  8. Realization of little or no preparation for needs of elderly / special needs persons.
  9. Food spoils in defrosted refrigeration and freezers.
  10. Insurance company claims response time is negatively impacted due to demand.

Are we doomed? No. You can prepare today for what you hope won’t happen tomorrow or the potential future. The following list will better prepare you for a power outage in the future. Planning now, can and will pay off, the next time the lights go out.

  • Have a plan for your family – plan should include all family members and close friend contact info, places to stay, meeting places and plan protocols defined by storm loss (Tornado, Hurricane, Snowstorm, etc.) type.
  • Stock up your supply kit to include: Flashlights spare batteries, a radio, First Aid Kit, Bottled Water, non-perishable food items, blankets, cold-medicines, corded land line telephone.
  • Consider having back up power with a gas powered or natural gas whole house generator.
  • Have a list of on-call responders to help in your time of need such as clean-up contractors, plumbers, tree services and electricians.

Be prepared in case you must evacuate:

  • Think about how you will handle pets (can you take them with you?)
  • Contact your relatives and tell them where you are going.
  • Prepare a “To Go Bag” should you need evacuate.
  • Take copies of important documents, prescriptions, child care items.
  • ATM / credit cards, cash in small bills, backed up PC data, personal records & photos.
  • Extra sets of keys.

Finally, be aware of the risk areas around your home and take measures to be best prepared. It is suggested you unplug all electrical items, except a lamp on each floor. This will protect electric items from damaging power surges, which can occur when power is restored. High end electronics should be used with a surge protected power strip when possible. Be knowledgeable with regards to turning off major appliances such as the furnace and hot water tanks, which may be necessary to temporarily ‘winterize’ your property for a prolonged power outage.

A little preparation today can make a big difference come the next storm which takes out the power to a neighborhood town near you.