You need to be prepared and act quickly to protect your family and your home during a winter power outage. You family members count on you to keep them warm, safe and out of the dark. Recently, tens of thousands of residents in South Jersey went without electrical power and heat in sub-freezing temperatures for days during the first of the blizzards of 2010.
Without electrical power, your thermostat won’t turn on your gas heater. Electric stoves and electric heaters won’t work. The food in your refrigerator will spoil. Your cell phone and connection to the outside world will be useless.
Protect your family with a generator
To protect your family, you will need a portable, gasoline-powered generator to run life’s basic necessities.
Generators range in price from $200 to $400 or more. The cost is determined by the brand and its power output in watts. You don’t need the top-of-the-line unit because you’ll only need the generator for an every-so-often emergency.
Determining the power you need
Here is a basic five-second electrical course. Pick an item you want to run. Look at the sticker on the side of it and find the volts and amps. Multiply volts by amps to get the watts your appliance needs to operate. For example, my refrigerator needs 756 watts. That’s 6.3 amps multiplied by 120 volts. To protect my family I purchased a portable electric heater. It requires 1,500 watts. I also wanted to be able to power up the phones, run a light or two, power up the microwave and operate a radio. A 4,000-watt generator would do the trick, but they can be bulky and heavy to move around. You may want to buying two smaller generators (2,000 watts) instead. Power up one household item on each generator.
A plan of attack.
Make sure you measure out your extension cords and three-way adapters before the storm hits. Remember, you’ll always lose your power in the worst possible conditions: snow, rain, wind or hurricanes. I’ve never lost power during the daylight hours. Have everything in place because it will be dark when you lose your power. I once fueled the generator in a blizzard. It’s always full now.
Run a drill
We lose our electricity at least once a year so we run a drill to see how fast we can get our power up and running. Everyone has a role. I brave the elements to run to the shed and start the generator. I bring an extension cord back. My wife waits with the cord that connects to the a three-way outlet with electrical cords attached to the refrigerator and phones. The daughter hooks up the electric heater and a light in the living room and plugs into a three-way connector in the kitchen. Life is somewhat back to normal in minutes and everybody is safe and warm.
Things to remember
To protect your family, fill your generator with gasoline and check the oil before a storm approaches. Run your generator monthly to make sure it continues to operate properly. Follow its manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations. Operate your generator in a well-vented area, Never run a generator in a house or garage.
Switch between household items
Take turns running differing household items at different times if your generator can’t power everything at once. We unplug the refrigerator for a few minutes while we operate life’s necessities: the coffee pot or the microwave.
Knowing how to operate a generator and planning for outages will enable you to protect your family.