Ah, summer. Longer days, family vacations, warmer weather — who doesn’t love summer living? Summer can also be a time of increased power outages as heatwaves sometimes test the power grid system and more severe storms can wreak havoc.
Not to worry, however. Here’s how to prepare for a power outage so your family is not in the dark—literally—when the power goes out.
Before we get into what to do when power goes out and how to prepare for a power outage, it’s important to understand the difference between a brownout vs. blackout. While the overall electrical grid system is quite stable — 99.9 percent stable if you eliminate weather-related outages, according to the Electric Power Research Institute — the reality is that brownouts and rolling blackouts do occur, often in the summer, so understanding the difference between a brownout vs. blackout is important for your power outage preparedness.
A brownout is a partial, temporary reduction in total system capacity, while a blackout is a complete interruption in power. Blackouts usually occur without warning and last for an undetermined period of time. They also often occur as a result of something unexpected, such as a severe storm or an unusual occurrence such as a car plowing into a power pole or an animal deciding a transformer would make a lovely home.
Another difference between a brownout vs. blackout is that a brownout is used by an energy provider as an emergency strategy to prevent the system from a blackout. In a brownout, a utility might decrease overall system voltage by 10-25% for a short period of time to ease strain on the system, according to Energy Vortex. This kind of reduction often has little impact on heat and lighting but might affect electronic equipment that’s more sensitive to precise voltages.
A third type of power outage is the rolling blackout. This typically occurs with some advance warning, normally lasts for a fixed length of time, and is deliberately produced by utility companies as a means of coping with peak power demands that can’t be met from the existing electricity supply. Rolling blackouts usually affect only a certain service area, and an energy provider will often spread these temporary blackouts among different service areas to ensure that no customer suffers more than another. This is different from a planned outage, which is generally announced by a utility company when service work is going to take place in a particular area.
Safety is the top concern when considering power outage preparedness. The Consumer Energy Center offers the following power outage tips for safety:
Knowing what to do when power goes out starts with power outage preparedness. Here are some power outage tips that can help:
Having household goods and important documents stored in a handy area, preferably in a container that you can easily carry should you need to can also help you be better prepared for when power goes out.
Download this handy checklist to help you get started:
Power outage preparedness also includes being savvy about what to do when power goes out. In other words, you can take certain measures to protect your foodstuff and not overtax your household goods for when power is restored. Here are some power outage tips:
Whatever your energy needs, we've got a plan for you