Each day, Texas depends on power running throughout the Lone Star State. When one or more electrical systems fail to work, it can result in a blackout. As blackouts occur, they wipe out power to most nearby homes and businesses. Energy blackouts don’t only happen during the summertime. Many Texans remember the Texas power crisis that happened in February 2021.
Some energy blackouts last an hour. In other cases, blackouts can last days, weeks, or longer. A blackout can spoil your food and stop power to your medical devices as well as your heating and air conditioning systems, making things extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, energy blackouts don’t have to put your life on hold. Here are ways to properly prepare for an energy blackout in Texas.
1. Purchase a Generator
Hands down, the best way to protect the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings is with a generator. Generators convert gasoline, natural gas, or even solar energy into usable electricity. It’s understandable if you’re on the fence about making such a big purchase. However, many Texas families couldn’t imagine enduring a blackout without a generator.
Most homeowners have either a portable or standby generator. Portable generators require someone to turn them on manually after a blackout. On the other hand, standby generators should immediately kick on and power homes after blackouts happen.
2. Prepare a First-Aid Kit
Emergencies can happen at any time, even during a blackout. You can help prevent many minor emergencies with a well-stocked emergency kit. An emergency kit should contain first-aid items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and a thermometer. Your kit should also include flashlights, batteries, and a portable radio.
If you currently have an emergency kit, ensure its contents aren’t expired or otherwise unusable. A properly stocked first-aid kit could prevent you or a family member from waiting in an already overcrowded local emergency room.
3. Ensure Pets Stay Out of the Sun
Blackouts can also be difficult on your pets, especially with cats’ and dogs’ thick fur. Many pets naturally love the warmth and activity happening outdoors and near windowsills. However, it’s best to move your pets away from sunny windows during blackouts. Instead, keep them in shady areas of your home. You can also keep your pets cool with a steady supply of cold water.
4. Keep Refrigerators and Freezers Closed
If you’re like many adults with families, shopping for groceries can get expensive. Because of that, safely storing food is a major concern when blackouts happen. Having enough non-spoiled food keeps your family fed, especially during a blackout. According to the CDC, keeping your refrigerator doors closed can keep food safe for up to four hours. A non-powered freezer should keep your food safe for 24 to 48 hours.
Each time you open your freezer or refrigerator, cool air leaves these opened appliances while warm air enters and causes food spoilage. Even opening these appliances for a second lets cool air escape that’s impossible to replace without power.
5. Fill Up Your Bathtub
It might seem strange, but a full bathtub is a great thing to have before a blackout. Sometimes, especially during long-lasting blackouts, cities might shut off their water supply to local residents. A full bathtub lets you and your family wash their clothes and dishes. Plus, having this much water available can stop you from depleting your stash of drinkable water.
6. Store Medications Safely
During a blackout, most pills and tablets will stay intact. That said, you must store certain medications at cool temperatures until they’re ready to use. One potential way to avoid replacing spoiled medication is to store them in an ice-packed cooler. Packing medication in ice won’t keep them unspoiled forever. However, this storage method could end up saving medicines that are expensive to replace.
7. Find Local Cooling and Heating Stations
Depending on the season, when blackouts happen, the temperature inside a home can rise or drop rapidly. Because of that, the inside of your home could quickly become a dangerous environment. Fortunately, depending on whether it’s hot or cold outside, many towns set up heating or cooling stations after blackouts. During summer blackouts, cooling stations typically have water and ice on hand for people to take home.
8. Stay Informed About Blackout-Related Developments
After a blackout occurs, it can feel like you lost all outside connections to the world. Even if your electricity stops working, you can stay informed of what’s happening around you with a portable radio or television. Most portable TVs and radios operate on batteries, which you should stock plenty of while preparing for a blackout.
You can spare your batteries and buy a hand crank radio. These power-saving radios only require the turn of a crank to gain power. Repeatedly turning this crank charges an internal battery in a hand crank radio.
9. Acquire Candles and Flashlights
You could spend several nights in pitch-black conditions during a blackout. Unless you have a home generator, conditions inside your home will be too dark to do almost anything. Stay aware of your surroundings by purchasing at least several candles and flashlights before a blackout strikes. Also, check the batteries you currently have in your flashlights. If your flashlight looks dim, it’s time to replace these batteries with new ones.
10. Have Disposable Dinnerware Available
It’s crucial to avoid wasting water whenever possible during energy blackouts. Fortunately, you can prevent wasting water used to wash dishes by stocking up on disposable dinnerware. There are many sustainably sourced plates, cups, and utensils available if you need a more eco-friendly solution.
11. Buy Plenty of Canned Goods
As mentioned earlier, higher temperatures can quickly spoil food. However, not all food will spoil at room temperature. That’s why it’s smart to prepare for an upcoming blackout by stocking plenty of canned food in your pantry. Many canned foods don’t require cooking or water usage, making them incredibly convenient during blackouts.
12. Consider Your Vehicle as a Power Source
It’s easy to forget things due to the stress that blackouts can cause. With that in mind, don’t forget that your vehicle’s battery can be a valuable source of secondary power. This power source is perfect for charging smartphones, laptops, and other important items.
13. Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide
When blackouts happen, many families reach for their generators or grills. But these products output carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that’s hard to detect. Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by ensuring your generators and grills stay outdoors. Also, don’t leave these items running near open windows, as it can allow carbon monoxide to enter your home.
Blackouts can wreak havoc on a home in seconds. After an energy blackout is over, you could be dealing with HVAC or plumbing problems. On Time Experts provides heating, cooling, plumbing, and air quality services throughout Dallas and Garland, Texas. Contact our team of 24/7 emergency service experts for help with the aftermath of any Texas power outage.