It’s storm season in Minnesota: How to prepare for power outages
What’s an electrical surge? When there’s a sudden burst of electricity, this burst can run through the wires and outlets within your home and onto the devices that are plugged into the outlets. Laptops, cell phones, refrigerators, stereo systems, appliances — even your heating and cooling system. In short (pardon the pun!), an electrical surge can damage or destroy anything that is plugged into an outlet.
Surges are most commonly associated with lightning strikes, which can cause significant damage to the electronics in your home. But, lightning doesn’t have to hit your house to cause a surge! Other things can cause damaging electrical surges as well. While not as intense as a lightning strike, major equipment in your home turning on or off (such as your air conditioner or refrigerator) can cause an isolated surge.
Homes with outdated electrical panels or faulty wiring are especially susceptible to damage caused by surges. Surge damage can be costly and dangerous. While installing a new electrical panel with whole home surge protection can help address the issue, a panel installation is not something you want to do on your own. A qualified electrician should evaluate your home’s wiring and panel and make recommendations.
Can your electronics and appliances be protected from surges?
The best way to protect your home’s electronics, appliances, and heating/cooling systems from electrical surges is via Whole Home Surge Protection (WHSP). WHSP is installed at the electrical panel and provides comprehensive protection —mitigating or eliminating surges before they can travel through the wiring and outlets in your home. It’s important to note that not all electrical panels are eligible for WHSP systems. Older homes may require an updated electrical panel before a WHSP can be installed. Of course, upgrading your electrical panel is also a good idea if you’re experiencing evidence of faulty wiring, such as scorch marks around outlets, flickering lights, or sparking wires.
Navigating Power Outages
A crack of lightning and boom of thunder is startling, but not nearly as startling as suddenly being plunged into darkness if the power goes out.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get you through the storm.
Prepare a kit in advance.
- Flashlights or headlamps for every member of the family, plus a portable lantern if you have one.
- A portable cell phone charger (these can be purchased inexpensively and charged in advance)
- Bottled water for drinking and cooking
- Nonperishable food and snacks
- A can opener
- A battery-operated radio or other method of accessing news and information
Check your electrical panel for a tripped breaker.
It’s possible that your issue isn’t actually a power outage at all and is simply a tripped circuit breaker. Go to the electrical panel in your home. All the circuit breakers should be in the ON position. If one of the breakers has been “tripped,” it will have switched to the “off” position. Flip the breaker back to the “on” position.
Are the neighbors without power?
You may want to check with neighbors to try to determine if the outage is isolated to your home. If you don’t have a safe way of communicating with them, move onto step 3.
Contact your power company.
Contact your power company or visit their website for outage information.
Keep those doors closed!
Keep the refrigerator and freezer plugged in and do not open them. Don’t be tempted to just pop in for a quick second. The air inside these appliances will maintain a safe temperature for a limited period of time, but that time plummets if there’s any outside airflow.
Unplug other electronics.
Unplug key electronics in your home, such as stereo systems, T.V.’s, and computers.
Get $100 off Whole Home Surge Protection or FREE Whole Home Surge Protection with the purchase and installation of an electrical service panel from Bonfe. Interested in the peace of mind that comes with an upgraded panel and WHSP? Give us a call today at 651-240-2422 to visit us at Bonfe.com to learn more about how we can help protect your home.