Power outages can happen anywhere, but we in the Northeast are particularly vulnerable when powerful winter storms move in. For us, plummeting temperatures can even be a matter of survival.
Sources of Winter Power Outages
Depending on the source, a power outage can last for several days, leaving your home’s occupants vulnerable to cold temperatures, and your home to a variety of calamities, from frozen pipes to defrosted food in the freezer. Here are a few of the typical causes of power outages:
- downed power lines from ice or wind
- transformer malfunctions caused by birds or other animals
- utilities having insufficient power online to meet demand
- severe temperatures interfering with operation of electromechanical support equipment such as sensors, hydraulic lines
- failures of aging utilities infrastructure
Homeowners may also experience the failure of their own heating systems during severe winter weather, necessitating emergency measures until an HVAC repair can be scheduled.
Surviving a Power Outage
If you have a fireplace, wood stove or any alternative means of generating heat during a power outage, you are in good shape. But if you rely on the electrical grid to power your heating system and have no alternative heating source, then it will pay to have an emergency plan.
You may have to vacate your home and stay with friends, in a shelter or motel till the power is back on. If temperatures are cold enough, you may be able to leave your freezer contents outdoors in a cooler, or take perishable food items with you.
If you only have to get through a few hours of cold you should wear layers and cover up with blankets. You can cook on an outdoor grill (be mindful of CO fumes wafting into the home) or camping stove. Battery-powered lights are the best option for lighting, as kerosene lamps should not be used indoors. Propane- or kerosene-powered portable heaters are available, but should be properly vented.
Consider purchasing a backup generator if you have no alternative means of heating.
For more on preparing for a power outage, contact Aggressive Mechanical Contractors of Monmouth County.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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