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Disaster Preparedness | October 26, 2012

Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Beforehand

If the lights go out, will you be ready? Have you done everything possible beforehand to assure your safety while your local utility company works to restore power?

History has shown that this isn’t an unreasonable question. Particularly vicious storms, can result in widespread power outages, taxing utility companies that own and operate the power-transmission infrastructure that distributes power to your home.

When these events happen, it’s important to remember that the best place for you to report an outage is with your local utility. Your utility is responsible for the way electricity is transmitted and distributed to your home. It’s important to remember that while Constellation is not a utility, we are dedicated to providing helpful, useful information for our customers.

Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the weather event, outages can last up to a week or longer, ruining refrigerated food and causing a fair bit of consternation. Although no one enjoys being power-less, you can prepare for the eventuality — an eventuality that’s particularly germane now.

Here are just a few tips to make sure you are prepared:

— Prepare a supply kit. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that people sock away enough water, dried and canned food, and emergency supplies — like flashlights, batteries, matches, first-aid supplies, prescription medicines, a battery-operated radio, and a digital thermometer — to last three days. You also might consider buying a survival stove, especially if you have an electric stove.

— Make ice. If your community has ever experienced a widespread power outage, you know that ice is hard to find after just a few hours. Don’t get caught short-handed because you’ll need ice to keep refrigerated food cool. So make your own. Buy freezer packs or fill clean plastic containers with water and keep them frozen for emergencies.Keeping your freezer cool for three to four days requires dry ice. Twenty-five pounds should keep a 10-cubic foot freezer cold for three to four days. For your own safety, don’t handle dry ice with your bare hands.

— Keep lines of communication open. Cordless phones do not work in a power outage. Either keep a corded phone on hand or always make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Remember, too, your electric garage opener won’t work, either. Make sure you know how to open the door manually before the lights go out.

Consider buying a generator. Although the portable models can’t operate everything in a typical American home, they can run refrigerators, freezers, a few outlets, and water wells, which need electricity to pump water into your home. You also should have enough gasoline on hand to fuel the generator. Whatever you do, don’t run the generator anywhere inside the home or garage. Each year, people die of carbon monoxide poisoning because they did just that. All-home generators offer another option. They are significantly more expensive, but they do provide enough electricity to operate everything in your house.

— Do some research. A plethora of ideas are out there to help you prepare for an outage.

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