How to Survive Without Power

How to Survive Without Power

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The hurricanes came early this year. Hurricane Barry hit landfall in Louisiana on July 13th, 2019, but that wasn’t the first hurricane of the season. Subtropical storm Andrea formed on May 20, which was 10 days before the official start of hurricane season. This actually marks the 5th year in a row that tropical storms have developed before the June 1st start date of hurricane season. Coincidence? Maybe! Read on to find out how to survive without power.

Over 114,000 Without Power in Louisiana

As hurricane Barry rolled in, customers in Entergy and Cleco territories suffered power outages. According to NOLA.com, 114,000 people are without power as of Saturday, July 13th. Utility spokespeople have stated that weather conditions are preventing linemen from restoring power in certain areas.

Blackout in New York City

Strangely enough a blackout occurred in New York the same exact day, July 13th, 2019. 73,000 residents were without power for several hours. Times square went dark, Broadway shows were cancelled, people were stuck in subways, traffic lights were out, and a Jennifer Lopez concert was cut short. The cause of the black out had to do with an issue at a substation in the area.

Many of us take for granted the electricity we use and dont realize how much we rely on these utility companies and the electric grid until something goes wrong and we lose power.

electric power diagram

Aging Electric Infrastructure and Grid

Not only do we rely too much on the grid, the grid itself is aging rapidly. At least 70 percent of electric transformers are 25 years or older. We are also using more and more power which places more demand on the grid which leads to even more wear and tear. This is going to be a huge expense for utilities in the near future which will probably lead to increased electric costs. As the grid ages, if utility companies cant keep up, we are going to see more and more power outages. So we need to take precautions to rely less on the grid and learn to survive without it.

Global Warming and Tropical Storms

Some think that global warming is causing an increase in tropical storms. The number of tropical storms hasn’t necessarily increased. However the amount of rain and destruction they produce has. Scientists say that the increase in the earth’s temperature could cause an increase in storm intensity and damage. The increase in temperature also allows the atmosphere to hold more water.

Well I hope these storms won’t grow and intensify, but at the rate things are going, it’s highly possible. Humans are still burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate. We are no where near transitioning to renewable energy sources.

Scary right??

Well if we can’t change the weather, then were just going to have to make do and survive….and that’s what this blog post is about. Surviving power outages. So let’s get started!

Surviving a Power Outage

The one good thing about a hurricane is that there is advance warning to the storm. So if you know one is coming, you know to expect power outages.

Lights

The first thing you notice when power goes out is the lights going out. Most of us have cell phones with flashlights which is convenient. If you have children, more than likely they won’t have a cell phone with a flashlight. It is a good idea to make sure each of your kids has their own flashlight. It will make them feel less scared and more in control if a power outage occurs. Aside from having flashlights handy, candles can add a good light source.

Food

The second thing that comes to mind during a power outage is food. If you have a refrigerator, it is not going to be getting power to stay cold. During the first few hours of the power outage, try not to open your fridge unless if necessary. You are letting cold air out each time you open the fridge.

If it looks like the outage is going to last longer than 8 hours, you need to start thinking about a backup plan for your perishable items such as meat and dairy. One option is to get a cooler filled with ice ahead of time to store meat and other perishable foods. If it’s too late to get a cooler, you can try putting the meat in the freezer because the freezer will stay cooler longer.

Another way to keep your food from spoiling is to buy a backup generator specifically for your fridge. You can buy small solar generators that will power small appliances such as fridges etc. Read our post about solar generators to learn more. You don’t even have to charge the solar generator with solar power. It can be charged with a wall outlet ahead of time. A fridge uses around 1200 watts to start and runs on about 100-200watts. There are 2 indoor battery generators that are powerful enough to keep your fridge running. They are the Yeti 1400 and the nature’s generator 1800w.

A cheaper option would be to get a small power efficient fridge for emergencies and run that on a camping generator.

If you dont have a backup generator for your fridge and the power outage lasts longer than 12 hours, you might want to start eating the food in your fridge so it doesnt go to waste. If you have to cook it, you’re going to have to fire up a charcoal grill or start a camp fire, because you’re not going to have a stove.

Small Electronics and Communications Devices – Cell Phones and Laptops

Nowadays most people cant live without their cell phones. Cell phones need electric power to operate. You’re going to want to keep your battery charged so you can communicate with the outside world. If the power is out, you can’t charge your battery. Also if your using your phone as a flashlight, you’ll drain the battery pretty quick.

Small cellphone charger banks are a good thing to have in emergencies. I have one on my keychain. They are available in various sizes. If you want something more powerful you can get a small generator/battery bank for your phone, laptop and other smaller electronics. There are many small solar generators on the market that are as cheap as $100 and will be able to power your phone and laptop for a few days at least. The solar generators can by power up ahead of time using your wall outlet, your car cigarette lighter, or solar power. They come with standard outlets and USB plugs so you can plug in lights or your phone to get power.

You can also buy a small camping generator to power laptops and lights.

Air Conditioning and Heating

The last thing that comes to mind during a power outage is temperature. If your in a place that’s hot and your power goes out, your AC won’t be working so you need to find a way to stay cool. Keep windows and door closed to keep out the hot air. Battery powered fans can help. Mist from a spray bottle will add to the cooling affect. You can also plug small fans into a backup generator if you have one.

If you’re in a cold area, the best way to stay warm is to keep the warm air inside. Keep windows and doors closed. If the temperature begins to drop, you can start a fire in a fireplace if you have one. Therefore, always have matches or lighters on hand for emergencies. Blankets, coats, and layers of clothing will also help keep you warm. If you know a blizzard is coming, get blankets and winter clothes ready and on hand ahead of time incase of a power outage.

If you have the money and the space, you can get a gas or propane generator that will be powerful enough to power you ac and heating unit. Small solar battery bank generators are not powerful enough to run an AC unit. Gas powered generators have to be hooked up outside because they have combustion engines that emit gases that are harmful if inhaled. Gas generators also have loud engines, so you might wake up your neighbors.

How to Survive Without Power for Businesses

Power outages are bad for business. You lose money, you lose customers, and you lose productivity . If you want to prevent shutting your doors, you can get back-up generators to help keep things powered up. If you are in a standalone building or other building with access to an outdoor area, you can get a gas or propane generator to power up your business. Propane or gas generators are very powerful and can keep entire buildings running. The bad thing about gas generators is that they have loud motors and emit CO2 so they have to be used outside. They are however, more powerful than solar generators and they can power a whole house including AC or an entire restaurant, or office building.

Backing up files

One of the main problems with power outages is losing your work. If you are using a desktop computer and the power goes out, all or most of the files you are working on could be lost. If you are in an area with frequent outages, you can purchase a UPS device, aka Uninterruptible Power Supply device. A UPS is an electrical device that provides emergence power when the main power to a load is cut off. They are essentially large batteries that store power and also serve as electrical outlets while protecting your computer and devices from power surges.

Conclusion

Power outage happen. As the electric grid ages and climate change approaches we will be facing an increased amount of power outages. It is important for us to lessen our reliance on the electric grid and learn how to survive without power. There are many ways to store power to use during an outage. There are also many devices we use that have battery operated or solar powered alternatives.

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Utility Hacker

The utility hacker is passionate about saving people money on their utility bills and protecting the environment from carbon emissions. Our goal is to help create a future where all of our planet is using clean renewable energy sources.