Preparing for Power
Jonathan Z. Kremer
Somehow power outages always seem to catch us at the worse times. Yet when
they happen, most of use are not only caught unprepared, but really don't know
what to do with ourselves once the power goes out. Here are some tips that
should help keep you in the light the next time you have a blackout.
Safety precautions one should consider beforehand:
- Make sure that you always have working flashlights in your home with
a supply of batteries.
- Installing emergency lamps around your home can be a great help.
These lamps stay lit for
2 - 4 hours, and go on as soon as the
power goes out. This can be a life saver near stairways and
electrical panels, as well as other sensitive places.
- A portable battery-operated radio or television can be handy during
a long blackout.
- Cordless phones, or those with answering machines are power
dependent. Have at least one phone that does not require power in
case you need to call the power company or other emergency numbers.
Keep your cell phone powered up at all times.
- Protect your electronic equipment and appliances with good
quality surge protectors. For more information see -
- Computers are easily damaged not only from the various
electrical surges and spikes, but from brownouts and "flickering" as
well, especially during bad weather. Surge protectors aren't enough
to protect computers, therefore it would be wise to protect your
computer system with a UPS.
To learn more about UPSs see -
- People who are medically dependent on electricity may need
portable generators. Safely store fuel only in approved containers,
outside - never in garages. Operate generators only outside,
ensuring that exhaust will not enter the home through vents or
windows. Only use fresh gasoline because old gasoline can ignite.
Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty
extension cords. NEVER attach generators to your electrical system,
unless it is done through a qualified electrician who uses the
proper transfer switches.
- It's a good idea to have a fire extinguisher handy, especially
if you are apt to use candles for lighting. (Note: Candles are not
recommended due to the high fire risk)
What to do when the power goes out
- When the lights go out, stay calm and evaluate the situation.
First see if it is only a section of your home that's out or
something that is affecting only your home. Sometimes the power
outage is simply a tripped breaker or blown fuse in your electrical
panel. If your panel seams OK, then see if your neighbors have
power. That can give you an indication as to how widespread the
- If you don't see anything wrong in your electrical panel, or you
notice that the outage is more widespread, it's a good idea to
report the outage to the electric company right away. (Note: The
Israel Electric Company (IEC) put out a pamphlet, in Hebrew, on this
matter, which you can find translated here -
- If you see any broken or fallen power lines, stay away and call the
IEC or emergency (107)
- Unplug any sensitive electronics, such as computers, televisions
and stereos, to prevent them from being damaged by any voltage
surges or spikes that may occur when power is restored.
- Turn off all major appliances. Leave at least one light on so that
you'll know when the power comes back.
- Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. Food will keep for 24-48
hours provided the door remains closed.
- Those homes with sewer pumps have limited storage capacity.
Limit all water usage, and avoid flushing your toilet during a power
When the power comes back
- Plug in those appliances that you previously unplugged, but
don't be in such a rush to put everything on at the same time. If
you need to use a number of major appliances right away, put them on
one at a time, waiting a minute or two between each appliance. This
will keep you from overloading your circuits all at once.
- When the power comes back on you may have to reset your clocks,
VCRs, microwave ovens, programmable thermostats, burglar and fire
- Remember to restock your supplies (batteries, etc) for the next