Thursday, November 12, 2009

What we can Learn From the Brazilian Blackouts

Power restored in Brazil after blackouts - "Electricity returned early Wednesday to a large swath of central and southern Brazil that was plunged into darkness when power from a major hydroelectric dam was lost."

Blackouts are a big problem. Some of the examples they had are people trapped in elevators, traffic lights out, and people on powered medical support devices.

Generally it also means that cell phones towers will run out of powers after a few hours if it has any backup power at all. The landline telephones also use backup power but it tends to last days.

While I don't expect most people to have a total backup power system for their home a few things can be helpful.
A windup alarm clock can be a good idea. Flashlights and batteries are obvious, if you use candles be careful not to get them too close to drapes or other flammables. We live in an apartment and my big fear during a blackout is someone else in the complex burning us all out because they didn't know how to use a candle.

Alternative heat can be provided by using an outdoor grill, you can even use it to heat water to fill hot water bottles to warm the beds.

While a generator or gas grill is a great tool, it needs to be used outside. That means the garage is indoors, many families die very years because they don't want the generator stolen so they use it in the garage. Carbon Monoxide penetrates the walls and they all die. Even if you set it up outside make sure the exhaust points away from the house.

If you have an inverter you can even use you car to charge some electronics but without power you won't be able to fill up. The big thing is to find out how big the blackout is, before you start driving around. The car radio is good for that. If it is a regional blackout it is a good idea to sit tight and wait it out for a few hours.

If the weather is warm you'll want to wrap the frig with a blanket so it stays cool longer. If you have a probe thermometer you can use it to alert you to when the temperature rises above 40 deg. F (the danger zone where bacteria grow more easily) A couple of jugs of water kept in the frig before the blackout would keep it cooler longer.