What to do in a Summer Power Outage

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It is unfortunate that power outages tend to happen during heat waves. However, since the elevated use of air conditioners during high temperatures is usually what overloads the power grid, there is not much one can do to remedy this situation. Power outages in hot weather can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and even dangerous, especially for children and the elderly. According to Linda Miller of Yahoo! Voices, “… in the United States around 4,000 people die from extremes of heat every year” (Keep Cool During Heat Wave and Power Outage Crisis).  Though a power outage will most likely not result in death for most people we still need to worry about overheating, keeping food cold or frozen, and potential damage to computers and other electronics. Here are some ways to keep you comfortable and safe during a summer power outage.

Food Storage:

Worrying about your frozen or refrigerated foods has to be one of the most frustrating parts about a power outage, especially if your last trip to the grocery store included lots of meat and a few cartons of ice cream. Here are few things to know about keeping your food cold:

  • A full fridge or freezer will keep food longer than a half full or empty one. In general, a full freezer will keep food frozen for about 2 days if it isn’t opened. The food will only last about 1 day if it is half-full. A fridge that is not opened will keep food for about 4 hours.
  • The less you open the fridge or freezer, the colder it will stay. If possible eat foods that do not need to be refrigerated (snacks, pasta, rice etc…) or know exactly what you want before you open the door to either one.  This is no time for a lengthy deliberation between turkey or ham!
  • In order to maintain safety, the fridge should not go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. You can use an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer to make sure that these temperatures are being maintained. Ice bags and dry ice can be used to cool down the inside.

Keeping the House Cool:

During a heat wave coming inside should be a reprieve from the harsh temperatures outside. These tips will help keep the temps low, even in the event of a power outage.

  • Keep windows and doors CLOSED. As much as possible, do not let the outside air come in or the inside air go out. Quickly open and close the doors if you need to leave.
  • Block the Sun. Pull the curtains, blinds or shades to block the sun from coming in and warming up the room.  You can even take this a step further by lining your windows with aluminum foil and newspaper, or hanging up a blanket over the window.
  • Take a Cold Bath.  Use the cold tap water in your home to cool off in a cold bath or shower.  Air drying yourself and leaving your hair wet will help you to keep that cool feeling any longer.

Protecting the Electronics:

In this day and age, losing all the documents on a computer can be awful. Follow these steps to protect your technology.

  • Back up, Back up, Back up. You should always back up the files on your computer. If you are working on something important during a heat wave or a storm you should make doubly sure to.
  • Install surge suppressors. Surge suppressor power strips can be purchased at your local hardware store and they protect your electronics from frying if the power surges when it is turned back on.