Having a good idea of how long power outages last and what causes them will help ensure that you are properly prepared for when the lights go out. At East-West Electric, we understand how important it is to not only properly prepare for a power outage but also to know what to do during a power outage. That is why our expert team has put together some helpful information that will help you during the next power outage.
What Causes Power Outages?
From statewide power outages to the dreaded dimming lights around the home, power outages can be caused by a number of different factors. Let’s take a look at some of the most common, and what steps you should take to avoid damage to yourself and property.
Faulty Circuit Breakers
Circuit breakers have an important job to do. They are switches inside your electrical cabinet that trip when there is a system overload, shutting off power and preventing damage to your house (and the people that live inside it). A faulty breaker, however, can potentially do the opposite. If your home loses power often, or if the breaker cuts off electricity to the entire home instead of just the circuit it is on, then you should get an electrician to take a look as soon as possible.
Overloaded Power Boards
The number one sign of an overloaded power board is that your breaker trips frequently. Overloaded power boards are common in apartments and homes where there are lots of electrical appliances plugged into the boards. Unplug devices that aren’t in use and resist the urge to stack power boards on top of each other. The last thing you want is housefire by an iPhone or Samsung!
Lightning is a common cause of outages. Lightning strikes can hit our electrical equipment, causing you to lose power. Lightning can also strike trees, which may fall onto power lines and cause outages
Flooding And Bushfires
Electrical storms aren’t the only weather events that can cause power outages. Flooding and bushfires can damage electrical infrastructure and make it difficult for repair crews to access the affected area.
Animal-caused outages are not simply a rural phenomenon: Squirrels, raccoons, snakes, domestic cats, and other climbing animals cause substation outages in urban, suburban and remote locations across North America. Wildlife near power equipment is the most common cause of outages at public power utilities, according to the American Public Power Association.
Common Duration Of Power Outages
While most power outages tend to be over as quickly as they begin, more severe power outages can last for days or even weeks. Power outages can be caused by extreme weather conditions like freezing rain, sleet storms, and high winds. These damage powerlines and equipment or by cold snaps or heat waves that overload the power grid.
What To Do During A Power Outage?
The first thing you should check during a power outage is whether or not the outage is limited to your home. If your neighbors’ power is still on, make sure to check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box to see if there is a problem. In the event that there is not a problem with a breaker or a fuse, you will need to notify your trusted electrician company, as the issue could be the service wires leading to your house.
Whether it is limited to your house or it also affects your neighbors, during an extended power outage you should:
- Turn off all tools, appliances, and electronic equipment and lower thermostats to a minimum to prevent damage from a power surge.
- Turn off all lights except for one, so that you know when the power has been restored.
- Avoid opening the fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary.
- Never use a charcoal or gas barbecue, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off carbon monoxide which is life-threatening.
- Never leave lit candles unattended or within reach of children and always use proper candle holders.
- Listen to information on the power outage and advice from authorities on your battery-powered or crank radio.
- Ensure that your home has a working carbon monoxide detector.
- Protect sensitive electrical devices, including TVs, computers, and Blu-ray players, with a surge-protecting Powerbar.
Preparing Your Home For A Power Outage
- You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
- If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
- Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance, and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.