The National Weather Service is predicting a lighter hurricane season than normal this year, but that doesn’t mean everyone shouldn’t be prepared. As we’ve seen in the very recent past, it only takes one major storm to make landfall and throw everything into chaos. One of the best ways to prepare for a major storm is to make sure you have a properly maintained standby generator. Consumerreports.org has some excellent advice for those who are looking for or who already own standby generators—read on for some great tips!
What size generator do I need?
Depending on what you plan on running in the event of a power outage, you’ll need a different size of generator:
Midsized standby generators (5k – 8.5k watts): standby generators of this size can power the refrigerator and sump pump as well as most lights in your home, a portable heater, computer, and heating system.
Large standby generators (10k to 15k watts): large standby generators can power everything a midsized standby generator can, along with a small water heater, central air conditioner, electric range, clothes washer, or electric dryer (although not all at once).
Other Hurricane Preparedness Tips
While we don’t often feel the brunt of major hurricanes around here, we still live in a risky area and it’s important that proper precautions are taken. Here is a list of hurricane preparedness tips from Ready.gov:
Before the hurricane:
- Have a fully stocked emergency kit and a detailed but easy-to-remember family plan that includes instructions on where to go and how to communicate if anyone gets separated.
- Know your surroundings, inside, outside, and around your home.
- Know how prone to flooding your area is so you’ll know how heavy rainstorms will affect your home. Also make a note of levees or dams in your area and determine if they could create a hazard down the line.
- Learn your community’s hurricane evacuation routes and know how to find higher ground. Have a plan in place for how to get there if necessary.
- Secure your property, especially windows, roofs, gutters and downspouts, and garage doors.
- Have a supply of water for drinking and for flushing toilets.
When a hurricane is likely in your area:
- Keep a close eye / ear on the radio and TV for up-to-date information about the storm.
- Make sure storm shutters are closed, outdoor objects are secured or brought inside, and your home is completely secured.
- Turn off utilities if instructed by authorities to do so, or else turn your refrigerator to its lowest setting and make sure the doors stay closed.
- Turn off all propane tanks.
- Make sure you keep food in a safe place.
- Pay attention to evacuation instructions based on where you live, especially if you live in a mobile home, a high-rise, or on the coast.
During the storm:
- Stay indoors away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors and close and brace exterior doors.
- Hole up in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level of your home or building.
- Lie under a sturdy object such as a table for added security.
- Stay away from elevators.
After the storm:
- Keep an ear on the radio for continued updates.
- Be on alert for rainfall or flooding that moves in even after the main storm has passed.
- If any family members get separated, refer to your family plan for communication procedures. You can also contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
- If you were forced to evacuate your home, wait for the official announcement that it is safe to return home.
- If you cannot return home and need a temporary place to stay, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find available shelters near you.
- FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) also offers several long-term housing programs that can help you repair your home or find a new place. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
- Limit driving to when you absolutely need to go out, and stay off flooded roads and bridges. It only takes 2 ft of water to wash away a car, including an SUV.
- If you do need to drive, avoid fallen objects, downed electrical wires, and weakened structures like walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Stay away from loose, dangling, or downed power lines. If you see any, call your local power company right away.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company immediately.
- When returning to your home, first walk around outside to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.
- If you smell gas, see floodwaters or fire damage, or authorities have not deemed your home or building safe to enter, do not go in.
- Take pictures of damage to your home and belongings to use for insurance purposes. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable entering your home, call a qualified building inspector or structural engineer to check it out for you.
- If you need to see in the dark, only use battery-powered flashlights—never use candles. Turn the flashlight on before you enter the building, as the spark created when it powers on could ignite gas.
- Keep pets close by and make sure they are under your direct control. While walking around, be especially careful of wild animals, including venomous snakes.
- Avoid using tap water unless you’re sure it’s safe.
- Go through the food in your refrigerator and throw out anything you think may have spoiled.
- Wear protective clothing when cleaning.
- Use phones only to make emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
- The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family members who get separated. For information, contact the local chapter in the area you are staying—do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
We don’t often experience major hurricanes in our area, but it’s still important to be prepared! Kolb Electric sells and installs Generac generators, so if you want to be extra prepared this hurricane season, call us today!