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How to Prepare for a Blackout

Summer is here, but with it comes an elevated risk of power loss, whether from severe weather, rolling blackouts, or other causes. Here, your friends at WEN have collected some tips to help you be prepared for the next power outage.

1. Have a written plan.

“Luck favors the prepared”, as the saying goes. Make a plan with your family and rehearse it regularly. Physically write it out and store it in an accessible location. Be prepared to deal with extended outages (several days or more). Consult the recommendations at www.ready.gov.

2. Have a backup generator.

Generators are essential equipment to make sure that, at the least, the basics are covered. Most models are powered by gasoline, propane (LPG), or natural gas. Choose your generator based on what is important to you – for example, the amount of power it provides, fuel type, noise level, and other factors. If you decide to connect your generator to your home’s electrical system, have a qualified electrician do this BEFORE the power goes out. 

NOTE: NEVER run your generator indoors, or within 20 feet of doors or windows. Generators emit carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless gas. 

3. Maintain and test your generator.

Regularly (at least once a month) run your generator for at least 15 – 20 minutes. Plug in a load and run it to ensure that the generator is producing electricity. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for caring for your generator and adhere to the recommended maintenance schedule. Ensure you have an adequate supply of fuel for when you need it – remember, when the power is out, gas pumps won’t work. 

NOTE: gasoline degrades over time. If your generator is gasoline-powered, make sure that the gas you have on hand is fresh (has been purchased in the last 30 days). It's also a good idea to add fuel stabilizer to your gas supply.

4. Have an emergency supply kit.

Ensure that your kit is regularly replenished with fresh supplies. Below are some suggestions for what your kit should include, but this is by no means an exhaustive list: 

  • bottled water
  • non-perishable food items
  • a first-aid kit
  • cash
  • pet supplies
  • basic tool kit (include a can opener!)
  • extra batteries
  • a written list of emergency phone numbers and contacts
  • flashlights (battery-powered or hand-cranked)
  • a battery-operated or hand-crank radio

Ensure you have climate-specific items as well (e.g. blankets for cold-weather outages).

5. Have battery-backup phone chargers.

Ensure your phone stays charged so you can contact friends, family, and emergency services if need be. Have multiple charges and charger cords to ensure your whole family is ready. You can also charge your phone from your vehicle if need be, but make sure that you don’t drain the car battery.

6. Plan ahead for medical needs.

If you or a loved one have a medical condition that requires refrigerated medicine, or powered equipment (for example, a ventilator), plan ahead for this. Your family’s medical needs should take top priority. Have a cooler and freezer packs ready to go in case your fridge or freezer warms up (which it WILL do, the longer the blackout goes on). Have an emergency backup plan to get to a source of power if need be.

7. Have an evacuation plan.

If the cause of the blackout is an ongoing problem (for example, a wildfire), be ready to evacuate. Keep your emergency kit portable so it can be easily loaded in your vehicle. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full (full is preferable) and make sure your garage door can be opened manually. Have a plan for where you will go and what you will do once you get there.

WEN offers a range of generators to suit your needs. If you have questions about maintaining, using, or purchasing a WEN generator, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-232-1195, or drop us a message here, to talk to our friendly and knowledgeable technical support team. Also, check out some of our other handy articles about generators and preparing for emergencies.

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