FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: SURVIVING A POWER OUTAGE

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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
July 26, 2012  (San Diego's East County) -- Though a power outage can occur from a simple malfunction in the system, human error or a traffic accident involving a power pole. Keep in mind, this is the time of year when it is important to prepare for power outages. Excessive heat warning may cause utility companies to issue “rolling brown outs.”  The summer monsoon season can bring electrical storms causing power disruptions.  Most importantly as we approach Fall, the Santa Ana Winds bring a multitude of threats such as wildfires, but also power outages from downed powerlines. A power outage can be extremely annoying and inconvenient, but it won't be a horrible experience if you're prepared for the worst.
 
Here are some tips to help you survive a power outage at your house:
 
1. Plan ahead. Every home should have an "emergency kit" prepared for power outages, bad weather and other emergencies. The kit should include:
  • First aid supplies
  • Bottled water and packaged/canned food
  • A few different sizes of flashlights (with extra batteries)
  • An extra fully-charged cell phone battery
  • Candles and matches 
2. Take care of each other. If you have small children in the house, they will probably be afraid. Keep them busy by playing games or reading books with them. Offer them the bottled water and snacks if they complain about being hungry or thirsty.
 
3. Be resourceful. Remember that gas stoves, grills and heaters will still work once the power goes out. You can use a battery-powered radio to stay updated with the news.
 
4. Find out if there is a shelter in your town. Often, when it is winter and a massive power outage hits a community, a shelter will be set up at city hall or a local school to provide people with heat and food. You can find out if your town has set up a shelter by contacting your local police or fire department.
 
5. Stay warm (or cool). If the outage happens in the winter, you'll need to have blankets ready as your house will get significantly colder. Sleeping bags work especially well, as they insulate body heat. If it's summertime, your house will inevitably get warmer without fans or air conditioner. Keep cool by placing hand towels under cold water and resting them on the back of your neck.
 
6. Be ready for the power to come back. You should unplug your appliances to avoid a blow out when the power comes back on. Protect your laptops, televisions and other expensive appliances by using power strips equipped with surge protectors.

Following these easy tips will make a huge difference. You'll be thankful that you prepared in advance! 


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