Despite their severity, snowstorms, torrential rains, and heat waves typically come with warnings. In contrast, power outages can completely take you by surprise, caused, among other things, by damaged relay stations, downed electrical poles, high winds, and a whole host of other circumstances.
Your best course of action here is to prepare to deal with the situation in the safest, most efficient way possible. You can brighten your blackout experience by tackling the darkness head-on and following these tips.
Also Read: Should I Use Generators Indoor Or Outdoor?
You’ll be better off with a gas stove than an electric one if you have one. In addition to being challenging, cooking in the dark can also be dangerous. This is why you’ll want to stock up on foods that don’t need to be cooked, like energy bars, canned fish and poultry, dried fruits, nuts, and even stress-relieving snacks like cookies and chips.
A small camp stove may also be helpful if you lose power for days on end. When everything blows over, you’ll have something to take on your picnics and camping trips to cook real food. Stock up on dehydrated products that can easily be transformed into tasty meals by adding water.
Survival depends more on the water than food. You should always be prepared in case of power outages affect your water supplies. By bottling your own water ahead of time, you can avoid the cost of stockpiling bottled water from a retail store.
Store filled milk, vinegar, or water bottles in a cool, dry place away from direct light after thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting them with bleach. A footlocker or other sturdy container that blocks light will also work well for this, as will heavy-duty black lawn or trash bags.
Right after a power outage, votive and pillar candles cast a nice glow, but you might need real light to find your emergency supplies and navigate your home safely.
You should always keep a flashlight on hand (at least one flashlight for each member of your household) with extra fresh batteries. A lot of battery lamps are also available at reasonable prices, but these should be kept in easily accessible places with fresh back-up batteries.
When you’re in the middle of an emergency, rechargeable batteries are great, but you have to remember to keep them charged and easily accessible in the dark. For natural light, warmth, and a soothing ambiance, consider building a fire in a kettle barbecue if the weather is mild.
Make sure your first aid kit contains more than adhesive bandages, adhesive tape, and gauze. Additionally, the kit should include OTC painkillers, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic and alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, elastic, splints, and a manual on how to treat traumatic injuries.
Additionally, you’ll need soap, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, disposable instant cold packs, calamine lotion, a thermometer, plastic non-latex gloves, and a mouthpiece for performing CPR (available at your local Red Cross). Darkness can lead to all sorts of falls and injuries, so it’s always better to be prepared during a power outage.
It is important to stay informed no matter what the cause of the power outage is. For emergencies, keep an extra cell phone on hand that is always charged. As long as it gets a strong signal and receives emergency updates, even an older model without all the bells and whistles is fine.
All of your household members should have the same emergency contacts saved, including your apartment manager/landlord, family physician, closest family members, and utility update hotlines. Having a clear understanding of what is happening gives everyone peace of mind and prepares them for what’s to come.
The power sources
During a power outage, a generator is the best backup source, but not everyone can afford or store one. Small appliances, including notebooks, laptops, and small televisions, can also be powered by a DC-to-AC power inverter, which can be attached to a car battery or a deep cycle marine battery.
If you have a 100-amp hour deep cycle marine battery, you can make a short-term power outage quite tolerable – and save your car battery from being rendered useless after the power outage is over. Make sure you don’t overlook old-fashioned devices like battery-operated radios and boomboxes. Any source of information is comforting in an emergency.
A power outage can last anywhere from a few minutes to several days or even a week. It makes the situation less stressful if you are prepared. Avoid trying to solve the problem yourself at all costs. Professionals should always handle electrical problems.
Generators in Apartments: What Not To Do
We tend to think of generators powered by gas or diesel when we think of generators. Gas-powered generators are often used in apartments, so we often wonder whether we can use them. It’s a resounding “no”!
Gas-powered equipment should never be run indoors. Gas-powered machines emit deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Whether it is a garage, basement or apartment, gas-powered generators and other gas-powered machines should never be run in enclosed spaces. Propane-powered machines are no different.
Power backup generators are essential
The importance of emergency power has been highlighted by recent events. Thousands of people lost power in Florida during Hurricane Irma in early September. Nursing home residents were among those without power. There was no air conditioning in one such nursing home after the hurricane passed through, so 12 residents died from the heat.
After the initial deaths, Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered all nursing facilities to install backup generators within 60 days. CNN reports that facilities must have “ample resources, including generators and fuel” to “maintain comfortable temperatures.”
Municipalities and states have different emergency power requirements, but there are some similarities across them. For example, the Indiana government’s FAQs sheet Regarding the Construction, Renovation, or Addition to Longterm Care Facilities states, “A generator must be present on the premises when life support systems are present in a comprehensive care facility.” All across the nation, similar rules apply to health care facilities.
What if I want to run a gas generator on my apartment balcony?
Although I am inclined to say no, I cannot be certain. Ultimately, this will depend on your landlord’s property rules, your lease, and local fire codes.
It gets more complicated when you consider your balcony’s proximity to other neighbors, whether the generator emits carbon monoxide near windows or intake vents, and how open or enclosed it is.
You’d probably be fine on a rooftop balcony without anyone around. No matter what type of balcony or terrace you have, I still suggest you confirm this with your landlord and familiarize yourself with local fire codes. It’s best to avoid doing something when in doubt.
Emergency Power Requirements
In commercial or multi-unit residential settings, states and municipalities may also require emergency power for certain features. Voice systems, communication systems, emergency exit signs, alarm systems, elevators, emergency lighting, horizontal sliding doors, fire suppression systems, and smoke control systems are some of the features which are usually required by law to be powered by emergency power.
Some municipalities specify the means by which emergency power is provided for these features in addition to the requirement that they have emergency power available. As an example, Chicago’s Emergency Electrical Systems code requires diesel-powered backup generators for emergency features in buildings taller than 400 feet.
There are also general requirements regarding the type of fuel backup generators use (regulators prefer diesel) and the amount of fuel health care facilities keep on hand.
Battery backup storage and charging:
For your power outage preparations, you’ve decided to invest in a deep cycle marine battery. The interesting question is, “just how do I store this thing with all of these warning labels on it?”
One of the most challenging parts of living in an apartment is storing your belongings, especially if you’re not supposed to have them. We were inspected by the fire department at least twice a year when I lived in an apartment. There’s probably nothing in your lease agreement about having a battery in your apartment, but it would probably be frowned upon during an inspection.
I found that a normal footlocker would be an easy and cost-effective solution for storing your battery, charger, and other power outage items. When inspections are going to happen, I would lock the lid and keep the lid open to vent the battery.
You’ll definitely want to measure the height of your first battery from the base all the way to the terminals before you buy it. You will then need to measure the inside dimensions of the footlocker you intend to purchase.
If the lid of the Foot Locker is closed, you could drill a series of holes around the lid to allow any gas buildup to be released.
In light of that, I would never even consider charging the battery inside the FootLocker while the lid is closed. If you have ventilation holes in your apartment, you are simply inviting an explosive disaster.
The safest method of charging your battery indoors would be to provide adequate ventilation and to bring your battery to a full charge before disconnecting the charger. Once a week or two, plug in your charger to top off your battery and then unplug it again.
This reduces the risk that your battery charger may malfunction and endanger your apartment and the complex as a whole. After one month of sitting idle without being connected to a charger, a new flooded lead-acid battery should only lose about 5% of its charge. You only need to top off the battery about two and a half percent after two weeks, which won’t take long.
You can choose how far to go with your power outage preparations when living in an apartment complex when it comes down to it. Since your apartment is not really yours, there is always the ownership dilemma.
In case of an emergency, make sure you have some food on hand that doesn’t need to be cooked, as well as some food that can be quickly cooked if you decide to buy a camp stove. If you go camping, tailgating, or enjoy outdoor entertainment, that camp stove will come in handy in the future.
The location should be considered
The result of a bad storm is often a power outage. Snowstorms, ice storms, or rainstorms may occur during this period. During really bad rainstorms, we should be aware of the possibility of flooding.
The Flood Channel’s website and national news featured our town’s massive flood last year. It was a beautiful day, 85 degrees and sunny. It began to rain around 7 p.m. and became torrential by 10 p.m. Our 30,000-person town was submerged within hours. There was a small river running through the center that had turned into a massive lake, and rooftops of certain structures were peeking out from the surface.
Although we got the same amount of rain, I live only 10 miles away and was spared this fate. Many people who went through that and lived in apartments taught me that it matters a heck of a lot whether you’re on the ground floor or an upper floor.
Water started pouring in as the parking lots became lakes without any notice to the tenants on the ground floor.
Basement rooms were available in some of them. From them, I learned that those who had Rubbermaid totes with lids in their apartments were most likely to save their possessions from rising water. There were a lot of expensive items lost by those using cardboard boxes.
Several of my friends were left without power during that storm for well over a week, which confirmed once again that I was doing the right thing by protecting my family. Flooding is something I cannot control. Fortunately, I was spared from that, but if the grid goes down, I can control my backup power.
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In case of a power outage in your apartment, what should you do?
It seems that power outages always occur at the worst times: during the hottest summer night, during the dead of winter, or right at dinnertime. In one minute, your TV is blaring, your AC is running hard, and you’re working on your computer … and in the next, everything is silent.
Preparing for a power outage isn’t difficult. Most of us wait until the dark is already upon us to take action. If you experience a blackout, keep a few simple items handy to prevent stumbling through your apartment and searching for supplies.
The kit should include a flashlight with working batteries (!) – more than one if your apartment is large – candles, matches, a battery-powered radio, and the telephone numbers of an on-call technician and the power company. The most important thing is to always return these items to the same place every time you use them. You may have the tools you need during a power outage, but you may not know where to begin.
Now that you’re prepared for a power outage, check out our tips for what to do in case of a power outage.
1. Make sure your circuit breaker or fuse box is working. You might not be familiar with where the circuit breakers or fuse boxes are if this is your first apartment after living in a dorm or moving recently. You should figure that out while the power is still on in your apartment.
The circuit breaker can be accessed by opening the little door that guards it if you lose power. At least one of the little windows on most circuit breakers will turn orange when a switch is tripped. It is fortunately easy to fix this situation. You should be able to restore power by flipping the switch under the orange window.
2. Consult your neighbors. Your apartment may not be the only one experiencing the problem if you’ve checked your circuit breaker and no switches are tripped. Find out if your neighbors are also without power in the hallways. Call the power company if the outage appears to be building-wide. Electricity loss may not be noticed by the power company – it may only be affecting your building.
3. All electronic equipment should be unplugged. Electronic devices such as stereos, TVs, air conditioners, and refrigerators should be turned off or unplugged if the problem is with your power company. You’ll want to protect your appliances from power surges when the power comes back on. When the power returns, keep one lamp on.
4. Refrigerators and freezers should not be opened. There is nothing worse than losing your power. Perishable food should also not be lost. Food can stay cold for at least two hours if you don’t open the refrigerator and freezer doors. Keep the doors closed as much as possible to prevent the temperature inside the unit from rising each time you open them.
Food should stay frozen for 24 hours if the freezer is half full. For 48 hours, it will safely hold food if it is completely full. There is a greater problem with the refrigerator. Foods that spoil easily, such as milk and dairy products, should be packed in ice and placed in a cooler if the power is out for more than two hours.
Be sure to check the temperature of any food before eating it if you have a digital thermometer. If the temperature of your refrigerator is above 40 degrees, you should not eat your refrigerator food.
5. Indoors, don’t use barbecues, portable generators, or kerosene heaters. There is nothing worse than a power outage during the winter. The darkness is not the only problem; the weather gets colder quickly as well. You might want to try using alternate heat sources if your power goes out for a long time.
If you live in an apartment, you should never use charcoal grills, propane or kerosene heaters, or portable generators. It is possible to produce carbon monoxide from these sources. In poorly ventilated spaces, this invisible and odorless gas can be lethal. Use hot-water bottles, and blankets, or share body heat instead.
Keep your hot water usage to a minimum, as it will be limited. You don’t have to be stressed out during a power outage if you know what to do right now. Save yourself from bruised knees and toppled furniture by investing in an inexpensive radio, flashlight, and candles now.
You can ask a friend or your maintenance person to show you how to check the circuit breaker if you are not confident. You may be able to meet people in your apartment complex if the power outage affects your entire building or neighborhood. Start a conversation with your downstairs neighbor by complaining about the awful blackout.
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