Staying plugged in after a power outage can be the difference between comfort and chaos. Whether the power loss is caused by a hurricane, blizzard, tornado, or another sudden natural disaster, communication and access to up-to-date information is critical for families during an emergency. Fortunately, with a little planning, there are ways to stay plugged in when the power goes out. September is National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). All month long, GE Generator Systems — a coalition member of FEMA’s Ready campaign — is educating the public about the importance of home emergency preparedness. Perhaps the easiest way to stay connected during an extended power outage is by supplying power to your home with a home generator system, which turns on automatically when a home’s utility power is interrupted. “A standby generator system keeps a household powered, even if the neighborhood is left in the dark,” said Amanda Grandy, marketing manager for Briggs & Stratton® (NYSE: BGG) Standby Power, exclusive licensee of GE Generator Systems. “This means you can power computers, TVs and radios, and charge cell phones or cordless phones — everything you need to stay connected during an emergency.” Backup generators provide power to a household’s large appliances when the main power source is down. Common home appliances operated by a standby generator include air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, electric stoves, clothes washers/dryers and lights. “A standby generator offers a backup power source for a home, but what it really gives a family is the peace of mind that their household will be prepared when disaster strikes,” Grandy said. “However, it’s important to remember that standby generators must be professionally installed, so planning ahead is important.” Even without an automatic standby generator system, families can take steps to stay connected when the lights go dark. Online mobile devices and mobile smart phones with Internet access allow information to continue to flow into the home.
First, make sure you have a power source for these devices if the power goes out, such as an inverter, solar charger or car charger. Then, investigate local and national information sources, such as these:
- Local city, utility and public safety departments. Oftentimes, these departments allow citizens to sign up for mobile alerts via text messaging or email to notify them of impending emergencies and clean-up efforts.
- Local news stations routinely offer mobile alerts that can be sent directly to your phone for free.
- Sites such as Nixle.com allow you to sign up for a free emergency alert service and, after entering your zip code, receive tailored notifications and advisories via text message or email from local government and safety agencies.
- Several apps available for iPhones or Android smart phones including The Weather Channel and Storm Spotter have free mobile weather alerts offering local weather radar and forecasts — a big benefit if you’re stuck without power in the middle of a storm. The Pacific Disaster Center’s Disaster Alert app allows users to track impending natural disasters world wide — a great tool for those in hurricane-threatened states.
- Websites keep you informed, too. Visit ready.gov for a variety of additional emergency preparedness tips to get ready for the unexpected and keep your family safe.