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What to Do in a Summer Power Outage

There are a lot of bad things about heat waves.  If the constant feeling of being sticky isn’t bad enough, oftentimes heat waves are accompanied by the inevitable power outage.  Why?  Because when the temperatures are hitting 90 degrees day in and day out there is an increased usage of air conditioners that over loads the power grid resulting in a power outage.

Power outages in high temperatures can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and even dangerous, especially for children and the elderly.  For more information about the heat related illnesses that are associated with hot weather, check out this post.  Though the majority of people will probably not face life threatening consequences during a power outage, we still need to worry about keeping our food cold, our home cool and our electronics in working order.

Food Storage:

  • A full fridge or freezer will keep food longer than a half full or empty one.  In general, if it isn’t opened, a full freezer will keep food frozen for about two days.  If it is half full, the food will only last about one day.  A fridge that is not opened will keep food for about 4 hours.
  • Keep the fridge closed!  The less the door to the fridge or freezer is open, the colder the inside will stay.  If possible eat foods that do not need to be refrigerated (snacks, pasta, rice etc…) or have in mind exactly what you want before you open the door.  This is no time for a lengthy deliberation between carrots or celery!
  • For safety purposes, 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.  Also, ice bags and dry ice can be used to cool down the inside.

 Keeping the House Cool:

  • Keep windows and doors CLOSED.  Try, try, try to 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 heating up the room.  This could even be taken a step further by hanging up a blanket over the window, or lining it with aluminum foil and newspaper.
  • 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 stay cool longer.

 Protecting the Electronics:

  • Back up those files!  You should always back up the files on your computer.  If conditions are looking good for a power outage (thunder storm or heat wave) make doubly sure to save and back up your work.
  • 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.  Another option is to have a whole house surge suppressor installed.  These are mounted on your electrical panel to protect your whole home’s electrical system from being affected by power surges.

As with most things, a little bit of prevention can go a long way.  If you are in the midst of a heat wave, grab some ice, fill the fridge and back up your files. An almost foolproof way to not be affected by a power outage is through the use of automatic whole house generators that turn on automatically when the power goes out.  This means that your fridge, computer and air conditioner keep running!

Most of this information came from “How to Keep Foods Safe During a Power Outage” (About.com) and Keep Cool During Heat Wave and Power Outage Crisis (Yahoo! Voices).  For more information check out those sites, past blogs about staying cool or feel free to contact FLAME about whole house surge suppressors and generators.

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