by Kayla Bachelder, Concierge Agent, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance
Ahh, a stormy night at home. Nowhere to be. You’re on the couch with a nice cup of tea, wrapped in your favorite blanket, about to watch your favorite movie.
What’s that? Did the lights flick—oh no! Power outage!
Silence. The dog growls in the sudden darkness. The cat springs from his favorite spot on the back of the couch, causing you to spill your hot tea everywhere. Complete chaos! How long will the power be out? What will go wrong before the lights come back on?
The Ultimate Defense: Generators
If you have an automatic generator, nothing changes. Critical heating and cooling systems and lights stay on. You continue to sip your tea, pet your cat and watch your favorite movie (some insurers offer a homeowners discount for automatic generators – ask your agent).
If you have a portable generator, it takes a few minutes to hook it up. Then you can power your most important appliances and lights. You may now carry on with your night.
Tips for portable generator owners:
- Save instructions for properly setting up your generator. Don’t rely on your memory to do it safely.
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide. Never use a portable generator indoors. Keep portable generators away from windows.
For the Rest of Us
Be Prepared Before the Power Goes Out
Power outages can be unpredictable, and you never know how long your power may be out. Always be prepared.
- Prune trees back from your house. Even healthy tree limbs can succumb to wind or ice storms. Reduce the risk of damage or loss of electricity. Remove limbs that overhang your home, fences or driveway.
- Keep your chimney clean. People who rarely use their fireplaces or wood stoves often postpone chimney cleaning. During ice storms, we’ve seen house fires caused by dirty chimneys.
- Always have plenty of fuel for your generator and any outdoor cooking appliances.
- If you have an electric sump pump, consider installing a gravity activated backup.
- Create an emergency blackout kit. Store it somewhere accessible. It won’t be helpful in the back of a closet, or out in the shed.
Emergency Blackout Kit Essentials:
- Basic first-aid supplies
- Flashlights (avoid using candles)
- Drinking water
- Extra batteries
- Emergency numbers & contacts (incase your cell battery dies)
- Backup supplies for your children and pets: diapers, food, etc.?
- Canned food is always good to keep on hand in case you can’t get to a store.
Preparing for a Regional Emergency
After a big storm or other regional emergency, power may be out for several days. Are you prepared?
When a Big Storm is Forecast
- Freeze containers of water to help keep refrigerated food cold.
- If your water comes from a well, fill your bathtub with water. This will allow you to flush toilets, etc.
- If you rely on an electric sump pump to keep your basement dry, lift items off the floor.
When the Power Goes Out
- Leave the refrigerator and freezer closed. A Full freezer will hold food safely for up to 48 hours. A refrigerator will keep food cold up to 4 hours. After that, in cold weather, store food outdoors, in coolers.
- Turn off electric appliances that were on at the time. This can help avoid a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
- In winter, open kitchen cabinets to allow the warmer air in the house to reach your water pipes. Pipes are often against cold outside walls. Those walls are even colder when the house has no heat or hot water running through the pipes.
- If you don’t have a fireplace or wood stove, go elsewhere if the temperature drops too low. NEVER use a gas cook stove or oven to heat your home.
- Use gas or charcoal grills or camping stoves outside – never indoors.
- When driving, treat an inoperable traffic light like a four way stop.
When the Power Comes Back On
Check cooking equipment and other appliances to make sure they’re off.
Unsure if your food is still good? Toss it! Better to be safe than sorry. Make a list of the items you discard. Some homeowners insurance policies cover spoilage of refrigerated food. Contact your insurance agent to see if your policy does.
Answers to Your Insurance Questions
Do you live in Southern Maine? Have questions about insurance for frozen pipes or food spoilage? Concerned about water backing up into your basement? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.
We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home, condo and renters insurance companies. We can help you find the best insurance value and answer your questions.