Preparing for the New Normal: Brownouts, Rolling Blackouts and Power Grid Failures
Do you live in an area where power outages, brownouts or rolling blackouts are becoming more common? You are not alone. Is this just a preview of what may occur during a major grid failure? In this article we discuss the major causes of power outages in the United States, ideas for dealing with unreliable power, and how to best prepare for living under these circumstances.
The United States suffers from the highest amount of power outages in the developed world. And it’s getting worse. (International Business Times) Too many energy consumers today experience unreliable service. Fortunately, in most urban and suburban areas, power outages rarely – and only under catastrophic circumstances such as natural disasters–last for more than a few hours. Excluding major events, the average duration of power interruptions is about two (2) hours. Power interruptions in rural areas may last longer due to power company travel times to reach the trouble source.
WHY IS MY POWER OUT?
Routine Power Outages
Small routine disruptions that are inherent to power distribution systems happen for a variety of reasons that are typically unavoidable.
- Weather, including lightning, high winds and ice, is a common cause of power interruptions. Straight line winds can knock down poles and cause damage for miles. Ice builds up on power lines, poles and tree limbs, causing them to fall or break under the weight. June is the most common month for severe weather outages, followed by August and July.
- Trees and limbs often fall into electrical lines and equipment. During high winds and ice storms, tree limbs or entire trees are commonly what come in contact with poles and power lines.
- Many components make up the electrical system. Electrical equipment, like any piece of equipment, can fail due to age, performance and a variety of other factors, or may be weakened by lightning strikes and temporary faults. Over time, equipment becomes more susceptible and cannot withstand the increased flow of electricity during high demands. Salty and humid air or dust may impact the performance of mechanical components.
- Vehicle accidents or construction equipment can cause broken utility poles, downed power lines and equipment damage. Remember, it is important to keep electric safety in mind if you are involved in a vehicle crash around power lines.
A brownout is an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in an electrical power supply system and may cause lights to dim or go almost dark. They differ from blackouts which are a a complete loss of power.
Brownouts occur during heavy load times, when too much electricity is demanded, or during severe weather. This may seem insignificant, but these sags in power can have detrimental effects. Brownouts can last anywhere from seconds to hours, so it is always best to be prepared.
Rolling Blackouts are typically planned by grid operators and power companies, in cooperation with state or local governments at times when the power system is expected to be overtaxed due to supply disruptions or weather that is causing excessive demand on the system. Rolling blackouts are a way these organizations spread the pain among utility customers by shutting off power for small service areas in rolling intervals.
Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties, toughness, and significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. These outages, because they are short-lived and commonplace, do not need to create major resilience problems; their effects are usually local, understood, and well within the range of imagination and planning.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF THE LIGHTS GO OUT?
First, you will need light quickly! Consider using power outage lights. Safelumin power outage light bulbs automatically switch to battery backup power, thereby providing immediate access to light when your power goes out. Since they operate like everyday LED light bulbs, they are easy to install in your lamps and fixtures. They even have a test button to assure you that the battery is charged and ready to go.
Once you have temporary light to get around safely, start down the following list:
- Determine whether it is really a power outage or a problem with your own circuit breaker or fuses. Check your main electric panel, but NEVER in the dark. This is a good place to have a Safelumin light installed. If you have blown a fuse or tripped a breaker, one or more of the switches may be turned off. Simply turn it back on and power should be restored.
- If it is not a fuse or a breaker, check to see whether the power is out for your neighbors, too. Power can be lost in a very localized area. For instance, houses that are served by the same pole-mounted power transformer will be dark, while houses next door are fully lit.
- If it is an outage, call your utility company and report it. Please be patient. It may be hard to get through because other customers are also reporting interruptions. The utility company likely already knows about the problem and is hard at work fixing it. And remember, phones that require connection to an electric outlet will not work during a power outage.
PREPARING FOR AN ELECTRICAL FAILURE
Every year, reported power outages–including weather-related outages–rise across the entire country. Why? An aging infrastructure, combined with a growing population and more frequent extreme weather, are straining the electric grid.
For shorter-duration outages, electricity users have an incentive to make their own preparations for resilience. A wide range of users do exactly that—with different levels of effort and cost. Make sure you are ready in the event that you face a power outage. Start preparing today by creating a continuity plan for power outages. Always start with your Safelumin power outage light. It will help you stay safe moving forward through your plan.
WHY YOU NEED A WELL-THOUGHT OUT PLAN
There is a psychological effect on people that often occurs during extended power outages. As time passes without electricity, people who depend on their ability to communicate or move freely get agitated, worried, and sometimes panic. They get anxious. They can get irritable. And they can act in ways they normally would not act.
This is when normal people do abnormal things. Some lose control and begin stealing from others. Some do much worse. This makes safety and security an issue to most of us who intend to remain and “tough it out.”
POWER OUTAGE LIGHT BULBS ARE ALWAYS READY FOR BROWNOUTS, ROLLING BLACKOUTS, OR EVEN GRID FAILURES
Safelumin is a high-quality, easy-to-use product to help you through an unpredictable blackout event. Power outage light bulbs can be easily installed in lamps and fixtures and used normally as an efficient every day LED light source. When the power goes out, the bulb automatically switches to power provided by an internal, rechargeable backup battery. When power is restored, the self-contained battery automatically recharges so it’s ready for the next outage.