Electrical services are something that most Americans take for granted. We always expect the lights to come on and the refrigerator to keep our food cold, but what happens when this is not the case?
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates in the average week, 3.5 million Americans experience a power outage. Most families are unprepared for a loss of electrical power, which can end up costing the average family hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
When the power goes out, a full refrigerator or freezer could mean as much as $200 worth of food will need to be discarded. After about two hours of exposure to temperatures above 40 degrees F, some foods start to grow potentially dangerous bacteria. Certain foods, however, take longer to go bad than others. Any poultry or meat that is thawing should be thrown away, according to the Health and Human Services Department. Dairy and soft cheeses should also hit the trash can. Also discard unshelled eggs and any food that has been cooked.
2. Alternate housing
Another massive expense is paying for alternate housing in the event that your house is not fit for you and your family to live in. If an area is experiencing a high amount of heat during a power outage, a house can become uninhabitable in just a few days. If a home reaches a temperature of 90 degrees or higher, breathing can become difficult as can sleeping. For families with no friends or relatives in the area, a hotel is their only option. Be prepared by researching cheap hotel rooms within 50 miles before the electricity goes out and Internet connections become sporadic.
3. Lighting supplies
If you are planning on staying in your house until the power outage is over, you will need a large supply of matches, candles, batteries, flashlights and other battery-operated light sources. Some opt for generators. However, these can be costly. Ranging from $200 to $1,000, a backup generator can be a good investment for people who live in areas where the power goes out frequently.
4. Other costs
Power outage costs often involve appliance and basement repairs. Here are some unforeseen costs homeowners have reported incurring during prolonged outages:
- $3,000 to have household mold professionally removed
- $21,900 for the repair of a basement for a 2,000 square foot home that is submerged under five inches of water
5. Prepare for a power outage
Planning ahead for a prolonged power outage may seem like waste of time, but if you end up being one of the 3.5 million Americans who experiences a blackout you’ll be glad you did.
How to Prepare for a Power Outage?
- Make copies of important documents
- Keep emergency cash in a safe location.
- Florida residents should always have a battery-powered fan.
- Keep granola bars, dried fruits and other non-perishable food on hand.
- Set up a plan for alternate housing
- Assemble an emergency kit that includes clean clothes, a first aid kit, medicine, bottled water and non-perishable food items.