Last month, the 10-year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina served as stark reminder to many about the importance of preparedness. This month, National Preparedness Month continues to reinforce that message. Now is the time for homeowners to take a step back and assess their plan of action should severe weather strike.
Tackling standard measures of preparedness like creating an emergency preparedness kit, evacuation route and communication plan are all crucial, but people often forget to consider backup power options. Lengthy outages can pose significant disruptions to daily life and could result in costly damages to homeowners due to a lack of air conditioning or heating, access to safe food and water and flooded basements.
“The number one issue people face in the aftermath of severe weather is the lack of power,” says Lt. General Russel Honoré (Ret.), commander of Joint Task Force Katrina and head of the relief efforts along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago. “When you lose power, it sets our society back at least 100 years. It cuts off our communication, it inhibits our access to safe food and water, it impacts our comfort, and creates sanitation issues. The fastest way to recovery is when people have access to safe, reliable power.”
According to a U.S. Department of Energy study (2013), severe weather resulted in 679 power outages impacting more than 50,000 people between 2003 and 2012. These power outages disrupted the lives of millions of Americans and are estimated to have cost the U.S. an annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion.
Before severe weather strikes, FEMA and Ready.gov encourage families to develop an emergency communication plan. That plan should include a disaster kit as well as emergency backup power to run critical systems and appliances in a home, including HVAC, refrigeration, lights, computers and more.
Homeowners have two main options when it comes to backup power – portable generators and automatic standby generators.
- Portable generators are often the first option people consider when it comes to backup power. They are less expensive then automatic standby generators and are easy to move. Portable generators are designed to run a few key appliances and not an entire home. To operate, a portable generator must be positioned outside a home away from widows, doors and other openings to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Once in place, a homeowner must run properly rated extensions cords to the generator and must be present to manually operate and refuel the generator.
- An automatic standby generator is permanently installed outside a home, similar to a central air conditioning unit, and runs on natural gas or propane using existing gas lines. When power is lost to the home, a standby generator automatically turns on – typically within 10 seconds – and can power all critical systems and appliances within the home. Homeowners do not need to be present to operate or refuel the generator.
Generator manufactures like Kohler offer a wide variety of portable and standby generators to meet the individual needs and budgets of homeowners. To learn more about backup power options, sizing and costs, visit www.kohlergenerators.com.