I saw someone pose the question on twitter the other day about what would happen in Phoenix if the power went out for three days during a heat wave. It would be quite a disaster. As part of an Area Study, this should be a disaster you identified and have prepared for. Here are some suggestions.
Phoenix, Arizona is known for its fierce summer heat, with temperatures frequently soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While the city’s power grid is designed to handle the increased demand from air conditioning during these hot months, there are times when the system might falter, leading to an extended power outage. Power loss during extreme heat can be not just inconvenient, but also potentially dangerous. However, with a bit of preparation and know-how, you can stay safe and comfortable even during the harshest power outages. Here’s a practical guide on what to do in Phoenix if there is an extended power outage during very hot weather.
## 1. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical when dealing with hot weather. Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. You may need more than the typical 8 cups a day in extreme heat. Always have a stock of bottled water at home for emergencies like this. Also, limit the intake of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they can dehydrate you. This goes back to the very first task in my Preparation and Survival Guide: at the very least have two cases of bottled water per person in your household. This will last you six days. I recommend more than that in dangerous, low water places, like Phoenix.
## 2. Create a Cooling Plan
When the power goes out, your air conditioning will, too. It’s essential to have a plan to cool down your home or, at least, create a cool space. This could involve setting up battery-powered fans, using wet cloths or spray bottles for evaporative cooling, or creating a cooler area with ice in a cooler or bathtub.
## 3. Protect Your Home
To prevent heat from building up in your home, cover windows with shades, blinds, or curtains during the day. Using reflective or light-colored window coverings can help deflect the sun’s rays. At night, if it’s safe and the outdoor temperature has dropped, open windows and doors to let cooler air in.
## 4. Check on Neighbors
If you’re able to, check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or those with health issues. They may need additional assistance during a power outage.
## 5. Find a Cooling Center
Many cities, including Phoenix, open cooling centers during heatwaves for people without access to air conditioning. These locations could be libraries, community centers, or other public buildings. Before the summer heat hits, familiarize yourself with the locations of these centers in your area. These only work if they have a generator and plenty of fuel.
## 6. Protect Your Food
Without power, your refrigerator and freezer won’t be able to keep your food cold. To minimize the risk of food spoiling, keep the doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
## 7. Prepare for Power Restoration
When the power is restored, there may be a surge that can damage electronics. Unplug your devices to protect them, and plug them back in only after the power has been stable for a few minutes.
## 8. Have a Plan for Medical Needs
If you or a family member rely on electrically powered medical devices, have a backup plan in place. This could involve having backup batteries, a generator, or a plan to go to a healthcare facility if needed. I have a Yeti 400 backup battery, linked to two additional batteries that can charge off six 100 watt solar panels that give me enough power to keep my wife’s CPAP and a small, camping refrigerator running. One positive is that you have access to plenty of sunlight in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Solar backup is always a great idea, even at a base level. Here is more on SOLAR in a free powerpoint presentation.
## 9. Stay Informed
Have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio on hand to stay updated on the situation. Also, many utility companies provide updates on their websites or via social media. Even if your home internet is down, you might be able to access these updates on a mobile device. This is one of the four survival essential items I say is your baseline and costs less than $60 (includes water mentioned earlier).
Remember, the key to staying safe during an extended power outage in very hot weather is preparation. Make a plan, stay informed, and take steps to keep cool. Even in the face of a power outage, you can stay comfortable and safe in Phoenix’s summer heat.
Do your Area Study.
Prepare. You cannot prepare after the fact!
What preparedness and disaster situation specific to your locale would you like me to blog on in the future?