What do you do when the whole world switches off? The Northeast Blackout of 65’ lasted almost 13 hours and affected Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Vermont. This meant absolutely no power or electricity for 30 million people. It’s almost impossible to comprehend until it happens to you. But what exactly is a blackout?
What causes them? And, more importantly, is there any way we can ensure that we don’t end up in the dark?
Blackouts are typically defined as a complete short-term or long-term interruption in electrical power to a particular area. Some blackouts are the result of natural occurrences. A lighting strike caused the New York City Blackout of 1977. A blackout in 2012 was triggered by a derecho, a type of storm caused by a series of thunderstorms and hurricane force winds, flash floods and tornadoes.
Other times, human error is to blame. The Northeast Blackout happened because a protective relay on a transmission line wasn’t set high enough. Cold weather put a strain on the power, which overloaded the grid. In 2003, a software bug at the FirstEnergy Corporation in Ohio caused another blackout in the northeast, this one affecting 45 million people. It took up to 14 days to restore power.
Wherever we might live, we can expect to use a lot of power. We need to cook, clean, light and protect our homes. We want to watch TV and play games with our friends and family without having the fear of the power going out. Having a back-up generator is always a smart move, but there are also other ways that you can prevent a power outage.
- Trim your trees – Overgrown trees can interfere with power lines. This is one of the most common and preventable causes of outages.
- Reduce Energy - Many summer blackouts are caused by increased energy consumption. i.e. Running the air conditioner! Keep your AC off when you’re not at home or use an energy-saver or timer to reduce power.
- Turn off or unplug any tools/appliances that aren’t being used. Idle electronics still use power!
- Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room.
- While running the AC, shut any rooms that aren’t being used so the room you are in cools faster.
- Use blinds and black-out curtains to keep the cool air in and block out the sun.
- Make sure electrical work around your home is protected from rodents.
- Get an “electrical” check-up. If your home is older or if you’re experiencing problems with wiring, panels, circuits or general electrics, maybe it’s time to consult the expert.
For more tips on protecting your home from power outages, contact your local Mister Sparky – Get it Done Right. Get it Done Safely.