While the risk of a historically massive blackout — like the ones the Northeast United States experienced in 1965 and 2003 — is rare, we all know power failures can occur locally during severe weather. Weather is the number one cause of power outages in the United States, costing the economy between $18 billion and $33 billion every year in lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and damage to grid infrastructure.
While most outages are short, a blackout created by an ice storm or tornado that causes widespread damage to your co-op’s utility infrastructure may last for a few days or even longer. Since we never know when a bad storm may hit, it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time.
Here are some tips:
- Always have at least one large cooler and a supply of ice on hand. If you lose power for more than two hours, you’ll need them to keep your food cool so you don’t lose an entire refrigerator full of sustenance.
- Stock up on water. If the blackout turns into a long-term disaster-type scenario, you may not have easy access to clean water. Store one gallon of potable water per person per day, for anywhere from three days (if you think you would evacuate) to two weeks (if you plan to stay at home through the blackout).
- Create a general emergency-preparedness kit. In addition to water, this includes a first aid kit, personal hygiene items, flashlights, copies of important documents, emergency contact numbers, batteries, a non-cordless phone and an extra supply of any necessary medications.
- Stash some cash. In case of a major blackout, you probably won’t be able to use a credit card to buy the things you need.
Your co-op works hard to make sure any blackout you might experience will only last an hour or two. But sometimes, longer outages are unavoidable.