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How to Prepare for Power Outages

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Battery Backup Lights

Battery Backup Lights

Tim Thiele

Introduction

The dog days of summer bring hot, humid days and severe weather right on along with them that often cause power outages. These storms can produce high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. Severe storms have a way of causing power outages and can leave you in the dark if you’re not prepared. It’s time to plan ahead for the worst case scenario.

Emergency backup power and lighting come in quite handy when the electricity to your home suddenly goes out. Have you ever had the lights go out unexpectedly and had to search high and low for a flashlight in the dark? When you finally found a flashlight, undoubtedly the batteries were dead or nearly dead. If only there was another way to automatically turn a light on when the power goes out. Well, you’re in luck! There is just such a light. With these tips you will be ready for the unexpected.

Be Prepared

Outages happen at the most inopportune times, so be prepared! Don’t wait until the outage actually occurs to know how your generator operates. Learn where to fill the fuel and oil to the unit. Know how to check the dipstick to ensure the oil level is correct. Learn how to start the generator and mark down which breakers will be needed in your electrical panel.

Run your generator once a month for 10 - 15 minutes to ensure that it is running properly. This way, if it does have a problem, you'll be able to get it fixed. That way it will be ready when you need it. Use fuel additives in the gas tank if the unit will be idle for any length of time. Store the unit where it will be easily accessible and out of the weather. Get an ample supply of fuel ready to be able to run the generator for at least 24 hours. There's nothing worse than having a generator and no fuel to run it.

Battery Backup Lights

Battery backup lighting is plugged into an existing outlet in your home. It is fed by a cord or can be hard wired.

The lights are fed with 120 volts and the voltage is transformed to either 6 or 12 volts direct current. When plugged in, the batteries are charged by the transformer, keeping them fresh and ready to use.

With the power on, the 120 volts opens a switch from the batteries to the lights, which leaves them turned off. When you unplug the cord or the power goes out, the switch from electricity to battery is made and the lights turn on automatically!

Placement of the backup lights in your home is critical. Position each light to give the greatest overall coverage for safe walking conditions. Stairways, hallways, basements, utility rooms and exit routes to doorways should be the main focus.

If you’re not sure exactly where you need a light, try turning the lights out and use a flashlight as a guide to placing the backup lights. It’s no fun falling down (or up) stairs.

Generator Safety

Generators can feed houses via either a drop cord or a transfer switch tied into the electric panel. A transfer switch’s purpose is to safely connect to either hook up to the utility company’s power or to the generator’s power supply. The switch generally has three positions; live power, off and generator power.

This prevents power from your generator from being sent back down the line to harm the utility worker who is trying to fix your line. There’s a good chance that you could severely injure or even kill a lineman. If this happens, you can be fined and even jailed. A transfer switch that is installed properly will eliminate this danger.

Remember to have good ventilation wherever you run a generator. Running it inside a closed garage could cause carbon monoxide gas emissions to enter your home, which could be deadly.

When filling the generator with fuel, turn the unit off and use caution not to spill any of it. Fuels are very flammable and the generator may be very hot from running, which could cause a fire.

Being without power isn’t any fun, but being prepared, knowing what to do and having the right items in place will make it a little more bearable.

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