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Hurricane Season 101: What experienced people do to get ready

May 29, 2019

 

If you’ve ever been caught unprepared when a hurricane hit your area, there’s no doubt you’ll have all your ducks in a row the next time hurricane season comes around. We spoke to several people who survived Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina and Hurricane Andrew in Florida to get their recommendations on how to prepare for hurricane season. When we asked them to share their most important hurricane preparation advice, our survival experts came up with these words of wisdom.

  1. Gather supplies and prepare a safe area in your home. Make sure you have a first aid kit, medications, batteries, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio, as well as a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for your family and your pets.
  2. Take advantage of technology. Purchase one or two portable phone chargers, and make sure they’re charged up. Download a smartphone app that will notify people of your location and whether or not you’re safe. The Red Cross has a free hurricane app you can download. Check redcross.org and this article for a list of great apps to get you through an emergency.
  3. Be prepared to evacuate. Even if you don’t live on the coast, you should still have a plan for evacuating, and make sure that plan includes your pets. Put important family documents in a binder so you can take them with you. Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes, make sure you keep your gas tank full and have your supplies ready to go.
  4. Prepare your home and your street. Reinforce garage doors, and board up your windows with ⅝-inch plywood or hurricane shutters. Bring in outside items if they can be picked up by high winds, and check the storm drains in your neighborhood to make sure they’re free from debris. If not, organize your neighbors to get together and clear away any debris that could clog drains and create drainage issues.
  5. If you own a portable generator, it’s smart to have plenty of extra propane or gasoline on hand to fuel it, as fuel will be in high demand during and after the hurricane. If your generator has been in storage, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to make sure it’s ready to provide backup power when the power goes out. Here is a helpful video on how to remove and prep your generator from storage.

Readiness for a hurricane power outage should include a generator. During the hot summer months, going for days without air conditioning is not only miserable, it can be dangerous for you and your family, plus the high temperatures and humidity can damage your home’s interior. Depending on the type and size generator you own, you can have access to your lights, air conditioning, refrigerator, stove, and more, not to mention access to the weather and news.

There are two main types of generators for hurricanes: portable and home standby.

A portable generator is perfect if you only want to back up a few essentials. Portable generators come in different sizes, they run on either gasoline or propane, and they don’t need to be installed.

If you’re interested in powering more than just the essentials, or even your whole home, you may want to have a standby generator installed. Standbys never need refueling since they’re connected to your propane or natural gas system. Your home standby generator starts automatically when the power goes out and returns to standby when power is restored, ensuring safety and convenience for your family during a hurricane power outage.

Following the advice of hurricane survivors to prepare now is smart, plus knowing you have a safe source of power ready to go will provide peace of mind for you and your family during any season.

Prepare for a Power Shutoff

May 16, 2019

As California power companies take responsibility for helping to keep our communities safe from the danger of wildfires, we all need to be prepared in the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff. When vegetation is dry and high winds occur, if a live power line goes down, conditions are ripe for a fire to break out and spread rapidly, putting lives and entire communities in the path of devastation. During extreme weather conditions, especially during periods of high wind, power may be turned off for days in order to prevent wildfires from occurring and spreading.

Many people here in California have never experienced a prolonged period without power, and have not had a reason to think about what to do and how to prepare for such an event. Most of us would be able to deal with a power outage of a few hours, but there’s a strong possibility that we need to be prepared for the power being shut off for an extended period of days.

Here are some practical steps you can take right now so you’ll be ready ahead of time when the power goes off.

  1. Always have a reliable generator by your side. A portable generator is fueled by gasoline or propane, and some models even allow you to switch between fuels. A portable generator can back up a few essentials or almost everything in your home, and should be chosen based on what items you need to power, your preferred fuel, and what features are important to you. A home standby generator must be professionally installed and is connected to your home’s propane or natural gas system, so it never needs to be refueled. When the power goes out, your home standby starts automatically, and when power is restored, it returns to standby.
  2. Make sure you can open your garage door manually. In case you need to leave your home or evacuate while the power is out, you’ll need to be able to get your vehicle out of the garage. Locate your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer if necessary to get instructions, and practice opening it ahead of time to make sure you can do it successfully. It’s also important to keep plenty of gas in your vehicle’s fuel tank so you’ll be ready to go if you need to.
  3. If you own a backup generator, make sure it’s operational. It’s important to test your generator periodically to make sure it’s ready to safely provide a source of backup power for you. Don’t forget to review your owner’s manual to make sure you know how to operate your generator safely. If you plan to use a portable generator to back up your power during a Power Shutoff, make sure you have a supply of either gasoline or propane on hand. Check your owner’s manual to learn about the approximate runtime for a tank of fuel to determine how much fuel you should purchase.
  4. Put together an emergency supply kit. Make sure your first-aid kit is new or replenished with fresh supplies. You’ll also need flashlights, lanterns, a radio, extra batteries, a written out list of emergency phone numbers and contacts, non-perishable food, bottled water, supplies for your pets, and cash.
  5. Make sure you have backup charging methods for your phone. Purchase additional backup battery phone chargers for yourself and your family so you’ll be able to stay in touch with emergency contacts and reach out for help when you need it.
  6. Plan ahead for medical devices that rely on power and medications that need to be refrigerated. The medical needs of you and your family are top priority. Keep prescriptions together in an easily accessible location, and keep necessary medications on hand. If you have medications that require refrigeration, or medical devices that require power, secure an emergency plan for relocation or an alternative source of  backup power. For emergency lifesaving medical devices, it’s important to follow the ADA Emergency Power Planning Factsheet and contact your local power company to inform them of your needs and discuss the available options.

Although power companies plan to send out an alert to customers when the power is about to be shut off, it may not always be possible depending on weather conditions. Since we’re based in California, all of us here at Champion Power Equipment are preparing our homes and families for this challenge right along with you. Our team is available to provide the support you need and answer your questions as you make plans to secure a safe source of backup power. If we take the time and make the effort now to prepare our homes and our families, we can face a Power Shutoff together with confidence and peace of mind. For more information and helpful resources, please visit calpowershutoff.championpowerequipment.com or the official California Public Safety Power Shutoff website at www.prepareforpowerdown.com.

Is Your Generator Ready for Hurricane Season?

April 25, 2019

When an unexpected hurricane or storm hits and the power goes out, it’s a pain, but, no worries. You’re one of those people who has planned ahead for emergencies by purchasing a generator. You can handle it. All you have to do is power up your generator to get the lights back on. Then it hits you. Your generator is still in storage.

Has this ever happened to you? Don’t let it. Get ahead of hurricane season now and make sure your generator is ready for action when the power goes out.

Checking and prepping your generator can be done anytime, since storm seasons can also occur at different times throughout the year depending on your location. It makes sense to know what steps to take so you can make sure you’re always prepared for the unexpected.

First, if your generator has been stored improperly with gasoline in the fuel tank or carburetor, all of the fuel must be drained and the carburetor must be cleaned before you can use your generator safely. If you didn’t realize there was a right way and a wrong way to store your generator during periods of unuse, check out our Help Center for more info on how to clean a gummed up carburetor. Then, the next time you are ready to store your generator, resist the urge to just put it away quickly because you have other things to do. Taking the time to store your generator properly will save you time and hassle when you need your generator the most – during an emergency.

If you did store your generator properly by draining the fuel tank and carburetor according to your owner’s manual, great! You have a much easier job ahead of you.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Take your generator out of storage and place it outside.
  2. The first thing you’ll need to do is add fresh, regular octane fuel. Make sure you don’t overfill the tank so you can allow for fuel expansion.
  3. Next, you’re going to want to check for fuel leaks. Make sure your engine switch is off, then, turn your fuel valve on. Wait five minutes and then check the carburetor and air filter areas for leaks. If you do happen to discover a leak, you’ll need to disassemble your carburetor and clean it or replace it.
  4. If you don’t find any leaks, you can go ahead and turn your fuel valve to off, use a dipstick to check the oil level and add fresh oil if necessary.
  5. Next, take a look at your air filter and make sure there are no obstructions like bugs or cobwebs. Remove any obstructions you find and clean and replace the air filter according to your owner’s manual.     

That’s it!

Fresh fuel, no leaks, fresh oil, clean air filter, and you’re good to go. With hurricanes and other storms brewing, you can rest easy knowing that if a storm hits, you won’t be stuck without power because you have taken the time to get your generator ready to provide backup you can count on during an emergency.