Prepare for the intolerable Summer Power OutageYou know the feeling, and it\u2019s most often a bad one. Suddenly, everything in the house goes silent and black. Oh, oh. Power\u2019s out!You run outside to see if it\u2019s just your house or the entire neighborhood.Meanwhile, you\u2019re wondering if it is a power outage, how long is it going to last? A few minutes is one thing. A few hours, okay, you can live with that. But if you\u2019re without power for days on end, the throwback appeal of reading by candlelight quickly loses most of its allure.As you know, such power outages don\u2019t just occur in the winter. Storms, extreme heat, and air conditioners running on overdrive can lead to blackouts, even extended outages, in the summer months, too.Why does the power go out in the summer?Of course, summer storms bring high winds that can damage electrical wires and disrupt the supply of power to your home. Thunder and lightning often cause sudden power surges that ultimately result in overloading. As we\u2019ve witnessed too often recently, summer storms can result in blackouts that leave homes and buildings without power for hours and even days.Call to mind Tropical Storm Isaias that sped up the East Coast in early August, causing power outages throughout and leaving millions without power, some for extended periods.Often times, too, the power goes out during a heatwave.The simplest way to explain this is that people tend to use more electricity on warmer days by running air conditioners and fans on top of using their other everyday appliances.When too many homes are using too much electricity, the electrical generators that feed these areas can begin to experience overloads and shut down, or in a worst-case scenario, explode.Another way that a power outage occurs is when power companies do something called \u201cload shedding.\u201d This is essentially a forced power outage by these companies to prevent the above scenario of the entire generator breaking down.Every so often, this is the reason for an outage during a heatwave and typically doesn\u2019t last too long. While this type of disruption is planned and not long term, it\u2019s still inconvenient and can cause severe issues if residents are not prepared.Despite how common power outages are, few people are prepared for them, and even fewer people know what to do if the power goes out.If you\u2019re one of these people, please don\u2019t feel guilty or bad. Just take action, so you are prepared in case the power goes out.How to get prepared before a power outageMake sure your first aid kit is stocked with essentials such as a first-aid manual, sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape and bandages, and a list of emergency phone numbers.Keep your phone charged. It\u2019s always a good idea to keep your cell phone charged in case of a blackout. When the power goes out, there\u2019s no telling when it will come back on, or when you\u2019ll have an opportunity to give your phone its next boost.Store plenty of water. You can\u2019t always rely on the faucet in the kitchen. Each family should store a two-week supply. The rule of thumb for drinking water is one gallon per day, per person. And don\u2019t forget to stock some water for your pets, too.Stock up on paper plates, paper towels, and disposable cups and flatware. Load up on light sources. Of course, you\u2019ll need light when the power\u2019s out. You should keep a stock of cheap candles on hand, so you don\u2019t burn through your pricier, good-smelling candles. More practical, though, are LED flashlights (be sure you have extra batteries and know where they are).Think about investing in a backup generator. Because the chance of electrical failures happening is high during the summer months, it\u2019s a good idea to look into purchasing a backup generator. There\u2019s a wide variety go choose from, from smaller portable units to whole-house ones. You can cover just the essentials like lights and major appliances, or you can invest in a whole-house unit that will also add value to your home. The professionals at J&A South Park will be happy to provide details.Warning: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can occur when people put their portable generators too close to their homes. Be sure to position a generator far away from any A\/C units (or other vents or windows) \u2013 they\u2019ll suck in the CO.A sump pump is another must-have if you live in a flood zone. The team at J&A South Park will be able to assist in your selection.Minimize your use of air conditioning. While it\u2019s the simplest way to cool down, cranking up your air conditioning can help trigger electrical failures. Try closing blinds or curtains during the day to keep the heat from the sunlight out, and open windows at night to let cool air in. If that\u2019s not enough, turn on a ceiling fan to circulate air and keep your home from feeling too stuffy \u2013 they run on much less energy while still leave you feeling cool.Get battery-operated fans. (And plenty of batteries.) A battery-operated fan can help cool you down, and they\u2019re reasonably inexpensive, although it\u2019s recommended spending a bit more than buying the cheapest model.Upgrade your electrical panel. If you\u2019re experiencing electrical overloads from running your A\/C and appliances too often, it\u2019s time to consider a panel upgrade. You can count on a licensed electrician like J&A South Park for an analysis of the system, so you have a better idea of what you\u2019ll need.You\u2019ll also want to protect your electronics. First, back up those files. If conditions are looking good for a power outage, make doubly sure to save and back up any work.Also, you should consider installing surge suppressors. They can be purchased at your local hardware store and are intended to protect your electronics from frying if the power surges when it\u2019s turned back on.As soon as the power goes outThe second the power goes out, there are a few things you need to do. Start by seeing if your neighbors have power or if it\u2019s just your own house experiencing problems. If it\u2019s just your house, check your circuit breaker box and call an electrician if there is no apparent cause. When the whole neighborhood is out, call your local electrical supplier to see if they can come out and repair whatever is wrong or, at least, find out if it\u2019s a major blackout.Proceed to unplug all major appliances and electronics to avoid any power surges that may take place when power is restored.Other tips to keep in mind while you wait for the power to come back on:If the air outside is hotter than the air inside, try to keep your windows and doors closed. If you need to leave the house, open and close the door as quickly as possible.Keep the fridge and freezer closed. The less the door to the fridge or freezer is open, the colder the inside will stay. If you have to open the fridge, have in mind exactly what you want before opening the door. This is no time for a lengthy debate about whether it\u2019s carrots or celery to snack on.Here\u2019s a tip for the freezer: Place bags of ice or, better yet, blocks of ice or plastic containers or freezer bags filled with water to fill in empty spaces. When the power fails, you\u2019ll have extended the time your foods will remain safe to eat, and you\u2019ll have safe drinking water when the ice defrosts.If the outage lasts longer than four hours, you need to err on the side of caution with regard to refrigerated and frozen food. Coolers can help \u2013 you can put your most expensive perishables in a cooler and, as mentioned above, fill it with ice to extend the lifespan.Note: According to the Red Cross, if your freezer is half full and is not open the entire time the power is out, the food in it will remain sufficiently frozen for up to 24 hours. If completely filled, your food should remain safe for up to 48 hours. Use safe alternative food preparations. A barbeque grill is an excellent way to prepare food. Always grill outside.Drink plenty of water, lemonade, or juices, but never anything with caffeine or alcohol as they raise body temperature.Dress appropriately to avoid overheating now that there is no cool air in the house. Wear loose, light-colored clothing.If there is someone in the house with a medical condition, if it\u2019s not an area-wide outage, leave the house and stay someplace that does have electricity.Check on housebound and elderly neighbors and friends and get them to a cooling center, if possible.Nothing grates on a parent\u2019s nerves more than the refrain of, \u201cI\u2019m boooorrredddd.\u201d Keep a box of \u201cpower outage\u201d entertainment supplies in an easy-to-access place. Include things like notebooks, pens, and pencils, puzzles, activity books, etc. Board games and books can also make for great power outage fun. They might even enjoy the power outage and the digital detox it gives them.Remember your pets. Place them in a shaded area that catches breezes. Be sure they have plenty of water available.If any family members aren\u2019t at home, get in contact with them. Since stoplights and streetlights might be out, it may be best they remain at their current location until it\u2019s safe for them to drive home.After the power comes back onTo give the electrical system a chance to stabilize, turn on essential appliances first, then gradually turn on electronics. Reset digital clocks, timers, alarms, network routers, and other essential items.If your HVAC doesn\u2019t turn on after a storm, you may need to restart it. Some units require you to turn off the thermostat, reset the circuit breaker, and wait a period of time. Other models may require some other combination of steps or have a restart button. Check your owner\u2019s manual for restart instructions. If you have any doubts or if the circuit breaker shuts off again after reset, call the technicians at J&A South Park. You\u2019ll also need to check the food in your fridge and freezer, using the Red Cross guide described above concerning how long food should last if the power goes out. Don\u2019t be misled by food\u2019s appearance, and never taste the food to determine if it\u2019s safe.Once again, you should check on your neighbors, especially those that are elderly.In addition, for your personal safety . . .If the power outage was the result of a storm, check your property for any damage. Report any fallen power lines. NEVER go near any downed lines. Don\u2019t use flooded electrical outlets, appliances or circuit boxes until they\u2019ve been checked by a professional.NEVER enter a flooded basement or room unless you\u2019re certain the power has been disconnected.Check for fallen tree limbs. A gas or electric chainsaw can make quick work or any stray timber.Remember, whether summer, spring, winter or fall, if you need a reliable, professional licensed electrician, then we are the team for you.At J&A South Park, we stand ready to serve all your electrical needs. Simply give our expert electricians a call.