Most of us love summer. But long, hot days, coupled with heavy summer storms, hurricanes and periodic heat waves, all tax the power grid and can lead to inevitable blackouts. Now that summer’s officially on its way, what can you as a homeowner do to protect what matters to you most?
As with any disaster, building an emergency kit and having a family communications plan in place are two vital items to consider. And following your local utility energy company conservation measures helps utility companies avoid imposing rolling brownouts in the first place.
In addition, here’s a checklist that can help you protect your family before, during and after a blackout.
- Keep bottled water handy. You can also fill plastic containers with water and place in your freezer.
- Keep your car gassed up.
- Make sure you would know how to manually release your garage door if the garage door opener was not operating.
- Check with your pharmacist regarding any medications you are currently taking, especially if they need to be refrigerated.
- Use flashlights whenever possible; leave the candles for another time.
- Disconnect appliances, computers and other electrical equipment. A power surge or spike may damage these items.
- Run your generator outdoors, never inside the house as carbon monoxide will build in closed spaces.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed whenever possible. Keep the cold air in.
- Keep a portable radio handy. Listen to local news whenever possible for updates.
- Keep cool whenever possible, paying special attention to the elderly and younger children. Towels soaked in water may provide some relief, applying to the back of the neck.
- Take the stairs, even if you think the power is back on.
- Follow the advice of emergency personnel, whenever possible.
- Unless forced to evacuate, try to keep traveling to a minimum. (Traffic lights may stop working during blackouts.)
- Use 911 for emergency situations only.
- After the blackout, throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures over 40 degrees fahrenheit for a prolonged period of time. When in doubt, throw it out!
Learn more about family communications plans and disaster preparedness, in this article, from ready.gov.
Depending on where you live, hail can be either a sporadic, mildly irritating event or a potentially devastating, destructive threat.
According to the Wikipedia article, hail is a “form of solid precipitation”. It sounds harmless enough, yet hail storms cause damages to crops and property each year. Per NOAA, “small hail, up to about the size of a pea, can wipe out a field of ripening grain or tear a vegetable garden to shreds. Large hail, the size of a tennis ball or larger, can fall at speeds faster than 100 miles per hour and can batter rooftops, shatter windows and “total” automobiles.” Hail causes an average $1 billion a year in damages in the U.S., according to the National Storm Damage Center [https://stormdamagecenter.org/hail-storm.php]
In North America, hail is most common in the area where Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming meet, known as “Hail Alley”. Hail in this region occurs between the months of March and October during the afternoon and evening hours, with the bulk of the occurrences from May through September. Update: just this past Sunday, The Weather Channel reported severe damage from hails storms in the south. Watch the video.
Identify hail damage after a storm
If a storm hits your home, follow these guidelines:
- Look for dents, cracks or breaks on windows, screens, doors and even patio furniture.
- Examine outdoor appliances like air conditioning units, and look for dents or excessive water intake.
- Check trees and shrubs; if they’re stripped of foliage, there’s a possibility your roof might be damaged, says the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
- Inspect your vehicle(s) for cracked or broken glass, or dents caused by hail
- Be safe when checking roof damage; consider using binoculars, or call a professional
If you find damage, take action
Take pictures before you make any temporary repairs. And, cover any damaged areas to prevent additional negative effects from the storm– board up any broken windows or cover a hole in a roof with a tarp.
Regardless of the level of damage, you’ll also want to promptly report it to your insurance company, which may have recommendations on finding a contractor to repair damage. (Remember to save all the receipts; you’ll likely need them for your insurance claim.)
Download our full checklist so you can be prepared when the skies get dark and grey, for how to look for hail damage.