During the worst blackout in Canadian history, Ontario residents were without power and light for several days. Although a blackout like that one was unprecedented, it does not mean it will never happen again. You do not have to become a "doomsday prepper", but it is very useful to prepare for smaller blackouts. These can occur during any time of the year, but they are most dangerous during summer and winter. Having emergency power supplies on hand keeps you safe, and helps the electrical contractor find you when street lights cannot point him or her in your direction.
Illuminating Your Address
One of the most dangerous aspects about a blackout is that emergency personnel cannot find your home in the dark or in a blizzard. If they cannot find you, an electrician cannot find you either. To illuminate your address without the use of electricity, you can:
- Utilize glow-in-the-dark house numbers
- Hang a camping lantern just underneath your house numbers so that the light reflects upward on the numbers and the lantern does not block them from view (most of these rely on small amounts of propane or batteries, like a torch)
- Keep a light of some kind in your windows and alert the police, electrician or EMT's to your location if you live in an apartment
Keep extra batteries or small camping propane tanks in your emergency reserves so your light source will keep burning bright.
Landline Telephones And Cell Phones
As long as your cell phone has power, you have a way to connect to the outside world. If the only telephone connection you have is a landline, you will be without a telephone during a blackout. Even if you do not want to buy a cell phone for everyday use, consider buying a disposable cell phone with at least two hours' worth of talk time on it. Charge it up all the way, then turn it off before you put it in with the rest of your emergency power supplies. If possible, buy an extra battery for the disposable cell phone (or for your regular cell phone). Make sure these batteries are completely charged before disconnecting and storing them.
Heating And Cooling Needs
Blackouts have a tendency to occur during the hottest days or the coldest months because the power grids are on overdrive. Many consumers are trying to heat or cool their homes and consuming a lot more power than the grids can handle. The best way to prepare for a blackout during a heat wave or arctic blast is to have an oil or propane space heater in your emergency supplies, as well as lots of water and tons of pre-made ice. You can store the ice in a chest freezer until you need it, and you can store the space heater with the rest of your emergency power supplies.
For more blackout survival tips, contact a local electrical contractor.