The median length of a power outage in North America according to the IEEE is 1.36 hours per year per household.
I am not sure about the legitimacy of that statement but would believe that number is supported by the Power Utility industry and may only reflect a failure based on a given location in the grid. For me, I know I have seen numerous outages greater than 1.36 hours in my life time and will probably see quite a few more.
In Part I we looked at power outages that last 8 hours or less. As long as you continue to be comfortable, and have got the 7 items resolved in Part I, and you want to tuff it out, here are the next set of items to consider:
FEMA provides a great food and water brochure to start with. Use this as your guideline for food, water and storage. Using up all your perishable food should be first then work on the frozen food. Hopefully you can still cook food, if not, having a camp stove is a good idea. If you don’t keep much food at home you may want to consider one of these two options; 1) collect all the necessary items to package together a 3 day emergency food kit. If you are not sure what to include, check out this list from the University of Maine. If you just want to have something, but don’t want to be real choosy, 2) look at this kit from Costco, put it in the closet and forget about it, it can be stored for 10 to 20 years. From the looks of it, I would never raid it just for convenience. It will also be well sealed in this rodent proof container.
Besides the food issues, look at this basic disaster supply list. It’s important to remember, collect the supplies and forget they are there. You do not want to rely on them for day to day uses as they can easily disappear. TIP: LED flashlights use very little power, include at least one in your kit.
Staying in the home in lieu of going somewhere else or a hotel is a personal choice, but you must be prepared. Food, water, and staying warm or cool (in the summer) will impact your decision. To stay put for 3 days the FEMA “Are You Ready” document mentioned above covers the basics quite well. Here are some additional considerations.
- Stay aware of situation: Use your radio to keep up with weather reports and local conditions. This will help you decide when it is time to leave, if you have to.
- Standby Generator: If you live in an area with regular power disruptions, you may already own an AC power generator. Adequate fuel and fuel storage is important and should be on your list, but since gasoline can go bad, it will need to be changed out regularly. If your generator is portable, a good lock and a chain is recommended. Desperate times bring desperate actions, someone may believe their need is greater than yours and decide to borrow your generator; indefinitely. Emergency generators are typically sized to support the important items such as; minimal lighting, refrigerator, electric heat and possibly air conditioning (summer time only).
- Fun: If your basic needs or covered, boredom may set in. Having some games or cards in your kit will help a bit.
Having a power outage greater than 3 days can define the criticality of the situation. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornados and the like can frame the situation well beyond 3 days. At this point you may believe it is time to go to Plan B and seek out public assistance that may include food and shelter (3 hots and a cot). Officials may be directing you to leave the premises. Before you leave the house, review this list and accomplish what you can:
- Turn the water off at the street
- Turn the natural gas off at the meter
- Turn off all the electricity. Turning off all the breakers at the service panel will ensure everything is off.
- Leave a note at the door as to where you have gone. Take caution on this one as intruders may see this as an invite. On the other hand if public officials eventually call for an evacuation and they think you may be in the house, they will break the door down to find you.
- Close, lock and secure the house as best as possible
- Take what personal item you can. Looting may be experienced during these long term outages, but hopefully you have insurance…