What is Your Emergency Plan When the Power Goes Out?
After several weeks of warmer-than-usual weather, a cold front has finally arrived here in Atlanta. With the temperature below freezing, the only thing we’re missing is a little bit of precipitation before it’s time to start thinking about the chances that an ice storm might strike your area. Our city does have an effective early warning system and regional utility companies usually do a great job of preparing for the worst. In spite of these local preparation measures, there are many things that individual homeowners can do to prepare for the chances of a power outage. Now is a good time to reconsider your emergency plan for staying safe, warm and comfortable when the lights go out.
The Benefits of Installing A Backup Generator
One of the best courses of action is to install a backup generator on your home. These high-energy devices will automatically keep the power running when a home’s usual power source goes out. These generators are usually installed in late autumn, in preparation of cold weather, but it is never too late to recognize the risk that cold weather could pose. Product guides also recommend that homeowners schedule service checks at least once a year to ensure that the machine is properly functioning. While a backup generator is certainly not a device that you use on a daily basis, it is well worth the investment when your home’s heating system stops working in the middle of January!
The Risks of Other Heating Methods
Contrary to safety standards, many homeowners use a portable generator with extension cords running throughout the house to power the refrigerator, television, and other electronic units. Some homeowners even use a portable generator to power their heating furnace. While this might seem like a short-term fix, there are many homeowner risks that apply:
- You have to make sure that there is no back feed to the generator when the power comes on.
- Cords must be secure so you don’t trip over them, which can pull televisions from the shelf or break metal plugs inside the socket.
- Extension cords must be the proper gauge and thickness (as measured by AWG). If not, they may not provide sufficient power to the appliances or can cause electrical damage.
- Generators can never come inside! Carbon monoxide is dangerous so keep them outside and well away from doors and windows. Having a low-level carbon monoxide detector is a good idea whenever using a generator.
Fireplaces are also a good idea for many homeowners, as long as you have a steady supply of firewood to stoke the flames. Huddling around the fireplace can be a great family experience – just remember to follow good safety practices and to keep an eye on the fireplace whenever there are hot coals.
Using a gas oven for supplemental heating can also be risky. Gas ovens are designed to perform only when they are exposed to proper ventilation. Combustible materials near a gas oven can result in indoor fires – a risk that every homeowner should try to avoid. These gas ovens can also release harmful airborne chemicals like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and even formaldehyde. Fire departments across the country have issued homeowner advisories against using a gas oven for heat (which often leads to carbon monoxide injuries).
When the ice finally hits, your family needs an emergency heating plan and the safest, most effective method is backup generator installation. Let the professionals handle the warmth and comfort of your family. Call Empire HVAC today for a product estimate and to learn more about our backup generators!