Home Disaster Preparation For The Skeptical: Why And How You Should Be Ready For Power Blackouts

It may be a bit wacky to stockpile 3 years worth of dried beans, toilet paper and toaster pastries. That being said, as threats to the power grid increase, it's more than a little crazy not to prepare for power outages that might last days or weeks, especially if you have a medically vulnerable family member or need refrigeration for medications.

Here's what you need to know about the wisdom of preparing for power outages:

Threats are rising as outages increase

Recent reports have found that power blackouts are increasing in the U.S. Out of all developed nations, the U.S. experiences the most power outages.

Reasons are varied. Failing infrastructure that hasn't been updated, severe weather events, industrial accidents and even hackers can take down a portion of the grid and cut power to thousands of customers.

At a recent government sub-committee meeting on transportation and infrastructure, legislators were told that recovering from a cyber-attack on the electrical grid could take weeks rather than days, and the feds aren't necessarily prepared if such an assault does take place. Clearly, protecting your household and keeping it running are up to you.

Develop an alternate power plan now

Smart, sane people already have a plan in place to keep essential household appliances and electronics running. An alternative energy or home generator professional can help you determine the best emergency tools to use in your situation.

They will have you take an inventory of all the energy-sucking appliances in your home and decide which are vital. You'll need a generator or backup power source (solar, wind or other) with enough juice to handle the energy needs of those vital home items.

Some families use a piecemeal approach during outages with an as-needed portable generator ready for the fridge, heater and computers, and alternative solutions like non-grid solar lights or LED candles for illumination. They may have an outdoor food storage system for winter power outages. Other families choose standby generators that are ready to immediately switch the home system over to generator power in the event of an outage. The latter option causes very minimal disruption of household activities.

Generators can run on natural gas, diesel or propane but each type requires careful installation and use to ensure your family and the lineman working on your power poles are safe. Hire a professional to install a standby generator and follow your electric provider's instructions for using any portable generator or power-producing tool.

Take other appropriate readiness steps

Monitor the weather and other threats via your local news sources or your smart devices using special apps. This is important to do if you live in areas prone to hurricanes, fires, or tornadoes. Apps and weather radios can help you stay informed.

Your local electricity provider has its own system in place for reporting power outages. This site from Florida shows how one utility in the state handles informing the public about power outages and gathering their information. Be sure your own utility's website is saved to your favorites and their number is stored in your phone.

You should have lists of other important websites, phone numbers and emergency shelter locations on each family member's devices and on a paper list kept with emergency supplies. Your family should also practice what will occur in the household in the event of a power outage. Which appliances will be used and which toys and games will have to be put aside for a while? How can each family member stay safe? It's good to give everyone a taste of what to expect so disruptive or chaotic situations are a bit easier to handle if they do occur.

Click here for more about standby generators or do an online search.