With hurricane season lasting from June 1 through November 30, we’ll look at the many electricity considerations to help prepare for a hurricane event. We’ll go over electrical safety information, what to have in your supply kit, and options for electricity generators to provide power in a storm.
Table of Contents
- Preparing a Hurricane Disaster Supplies Kit
- Electrical Supplies to Add to a Disaster Kit
- Heavy-duty Electrical Options
- Electricity Safety Concerns During Hurricanes
Preparing a Hurricane Disaster Supplies Kit
Texans know all too well the devastation hurricanes and tropical storms can cause. Unfortunately, with natural disasters, there are often interruptions to your electricity service. Energy Ogre is your electricity advocate, and we’ll go over some helpful tips in a second. First and foremost, though, we want to make sure you’re doing what you can to protect the safety and well-being for you and your family.
What Goes Into a Hurricane Preparedness Kit
In the case of a storm, you want to be prepared to survive for multiple days after it has settled, and that’s where having an emergency kit ready ahead of time can be vital.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security suggests preparing:
Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food)
Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
You’ll also want to make sure you have a first aid kit, your prescription medication, a whistle to call for help, garbage bags, a manual can opener and a whole bunch of other helpful items that can be found on this list from Ready.gov.
While you're prepping that kit, it's great to think of your overall weather plan and make sure to stay aware of the latest developments.
“It’s extremely important to know where to go if you need to evacuate." said KHOU Meteorologist Kim Castro. "Make sure you’ve communicated a plan with friends and family that live up north. And of course, be sure you’re tuned in to us, the KHOU Weather Team, for details on storm tracks and how they impact evacuation zones and routes.”
Electrical Supplies to Add to a Disaster Kit
In our modern day lives, we know technology can be crucial for communication, information, and so much more during a storm. One of the most simple, but truly important things is to have flashlights and batteries ready for use.
Before a storm, you’ll want to make sure all your devices are charged - computers, laptops, tablets, portable chargers, etc.
If you’re able to get cell service during or after the storm, that’s definitely going to be a big help. However, you’ll want to use your phone smartly. Try to be efficient in communicating your safety with family and friends, that way you can preserve battery life.
If you’re someone that likes camping, you might be familiar with portable solar battery chargers. These use the sun’s energy to store power and can help with your devices if needed.
Medical Considerations Before a Storm
As we mentioned before, it’s important you have a dry place for your prescription medication. We also understand that some medical equipment needs power to function. Set up an emergency plan by contacting your health provider. For those with a disability or medical need, register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) online or by calling 2-1-1.
Heavy-duty Electrical Options
If you’re looking to invest in more high powered options, there are a variety of different batteries and generators that can power major appliances in your home during an outage.
“It's all a function of how far you're willing to go,” said Energy Ogre CEO Jesson Bradshaw. “It’s most important to first do the things that keep you safe. By the time you start getting to certain electricity discussions, they can be more of a luxury than a necessity.”
Generators have a wide range of prices from a couple hundred dollars to more than $10,000. Home Depot breaks down the three main types of generators.
Inverter generators are ideal for camping, boating and other recreational activities. They operate quieter than other generators and provide power for lights, heaters, fans, radios, smart phones and more.
Whole house generators (home standby generators) are designed to provide ample power for your appliances and HVAC systems.
Portable generators are often used on job sites to power air compressors, nail guns, saws, hammer drills and other equipment. Most are loud, but there are quiet portable generators too.
You can also purchase a portable power station type battery. For about $1,500 you can get one that has more than 1200 Watt hours of capacity.
If you’re using a generator, it’s important you know how to operate it safely. Reviewing the owner’s manual regularly is a good idea. Whether it’s a whole home generator or a portable one, having the right fuel ahead of time is a must. That being said, using it properly is vital to avoid fire hazards, minimize risk of electrocution or carbon monoxide poisoning.
How Does Having Solar Panels Impact Power During a Storm?
If you have installed solar panels in your home, having a solar battery could also help.
“The battery is similar to a generator when it sees that there’s no power,” Bradshaw said. “It's going to try to supply the house off of its own charge. Most people don't generate enough electricity to offset the demand though. So, in that situation, you may want to turn off the AC systems to reduce demand and to keep that battery’s focus on lighting.”
If you’re thinking about solar options, Energy Ogre breaks down some pros and cons you will want to consider.
Electricity Safety Concerns During Hurricanes
If you are leaving your home during an evacuation, it’s a good idea to turn off your main circuit breaker and unplug electrical appliances.
If you are standing in water, DO NOT try to shut off power from your breaker box. SafeElectricity.org suggests calling your utility and requesting that power is shut off at the meter.
The website adds that damaged electrical equipment is not always easily detected visually.
Just because something isn’t sparking, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.
You will want to stay away from downed power lines, and if you see one, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.
Of course, we know this is a lot to take in. During a storm and its recovery, there are just so many out of the normal things happening all at once. Preparing ahead of time won’t solve all the problems you’ll be dealing with, but if it can help keep you safe, it’s worth it.
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