What To Do When the Power Goes Out
It’s almost quitting time for you. After just one more entry into the spreadsheet you can turn off your computer and head for home. Tired after a long day at work, you’re looking forward to a relaxing evening with your wife and children.
With your hands poised above the keyboard, you notice the lights flicker, then suddenly go out . . . along with your computer. Uttering profanities under your breath, you step into the hallway to ask someone, anyone, what in the heck is going on and you notice the entire office is dark.
The hum of other voices is getting louder. As you all gather in the reception area, someone shouts, “Hey, look outside! The whole city is dark. Man, we’re really in trouble.”
You grab your cell phone and try to call home, but it’s not working either. Maybe you can make it home safely if you’re just careful, because it’s obvious that the stop lights are not working either.
Everyone in the office has the same idea as they rush for the elevators. Oops! Not working. Down the stairs everyone rushes – to the parking level. You unlock the car, hop in, put the key in the ignition and . . . nothing happens.
Now you know something is really wrong, but you don’t know what you should do or how long it will last. Do you have a back-up plan? How will you communicate with your family? You worry about whether they are safe or not – or if they’re even at home.
You have been so busy that you didn’t notice the small news item that barely registered on the Internet, radio or TV:
NASA scientists observed that the sun had just ejected a giant fireball (called a CME, or “Coronal Mass Ejection”) from its surface. They warned there would possibly be some interference with communications depending on where you lived, but ultimately they didn’t think it would be much more than a nuisance.
The scientists were wrong.
CMEs or solar flares are not uncommon and usually occur during years of high sun-spot activity. Mostly they just glance off the earth or don’t even come close and don’t affect us much. But we don’t really know when or if they will be strong enough to cause disruptions in our communications.
It happened in 1859 and took 18 hours to reach earth (it usually takes 3 or 4 days). Back then we had no electrical grid. Then it happened again in 1989. The entire province of Quebec, Ontario went dark in an elapsed time of 90 seconds. The storm lasted for about 26 hours and the blackout came very close to extending into the United States.
Our electrical power grid is very complex and intricately connected. A large CME could literally melt the transformer hubs and the damage could take 4 to 10 years to fix because these units are huge, complex to make, difficult to transport—and made in China.
What you do not know as you sit in your car wondering what to do next, is that the economy has crashed, your drinkable water has ceased to exist, the sewage system is no longer working, hospitals will be out of business within three days when their generators run out of fuel, life-maintaining medicines will be unavailable, grocery stores will be empty before the day is over, and you won’t be watching TV or listening to most radios for a long time to come.
A power outage can occur for any number of reasons:
A cyber attack could easily take down a
Man-made disasters such as war and bombings.
|Solar Flare (CME)
A solar flare affects our electrical grid and appliances
A lightning storm, an earthquake, tornado, hurricane
So what to do right now?
When the power goes out in your home, for whatever reason, keeping your refrigerated and frozen foods cold is the most important factor. The next in importance is keeping your family warm if it’s winter, or cool if it’s summer. And you will need lights of some kind if the power outage extends into the night and a way to cook a warm meal.
If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume.
If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow these guidelines:
- For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
- For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Freezer foods may be refrozen if ice crystals are present. Exceptions include ice cream, pizza, and casseroles. If the frozen food has completely thawed but is cold, it must be cooked within a 24-hour period; or foods may be refrozen within 24 hours after thawing. However, quality may be diminished. If in doubt about when the food actually thawed in the freezer, discard the thawed food.
Dry ice may be used to keep frozen foods frozen and cold foods cold. Be careful not to handle dry ice with bare hands or breathe the vapors.
It’s always a good idea to have some canned or freeze dried food on hand during a power outage, in case you have spoiled food or to keep from opening the refrigerator or freezer too often.
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SOURCE : www.family-survival-planning.com