Archive for Emergency Power

A South Florida Christmas: Decorating your Home

how to choose a generatorThe holidays are here! A time for family, presents, togetherness… and lots of Christmas lights. Rather than sticking to just some garlands and a tree, you might want to look into adding touches of holiday cheer to both the inside and outside of your home this year.

Indoor Lighting

When most people think of indoor Christmas lights, they think about the ones wrapped around the tree. The truth, however, is that you can use lights to create a very festive Christmas display that extends beyond the living room.

Here are some places where a string of Christmas lights can look great:

  1. Running around the ceiling (you might need to combine several strings of lights to cover an entire room)
  2. Around a door or window
  3. Wrapped around indoor potted plants (works even better if you have several potted plants sitting together)
  4. Placed inside a glass vase or lamp, so the glow of the lights shows through
  5. On the headboard of your bed
  6. Against the back of the kitchen counter or under the cabinets (you might need to use tape to secure the cable)

Although colorful lights are great for certain areas of the home, white lights often make a stronger statement, especially if you plan on using them around colorful objects or decorating entire rooms with them.e

Taking the Lights Outdoors 

When it comes to decorating outside, many people stick to large lawn ornaments and some outdoor lightning. Unless you live in an area with strict rules or are trying to keep the outdoor displays to a minimum, there’s no reason why you should stop there. In fact, a little touch of added light or color here or there can make a world of difference — and without costing you a fortune.

You’ll get the biggest impact from simple things, like wrapping strings of light around tree trunks or branches. No trees outside? Wrap the lights around the porch or balcony railing. Or buy some potted plants, decorate them with lights and place them right outside your front door.

For something different, find some tree branches or buy some giant plastic candy canes. Then find an empty plant pot (tall ones work better for this) and fill the bottom with a bunch of Christmas lights. Place the branches/candy canes on top and then plug in. The light coming from within the pot will create a great lighting effect.

Preparing for the Unexpected, such as a South Florida Power Outage

Finally, your Christmas display is set. The lights are on, the giant Santa is all ready to go and the tree is shining brightly through the window.

One thing you might be missing? Emergency power.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who goes all out with their Christmas decoration, you might want to think about a South Florida power outage and how that will affect your holiday decor. After all, you probably don’t want to be in the dark on Christmas Eve, as you sit down to enjoy dinner with the family.

One way to avoid problems is to make sure you pick energy efficient lightning, so you’re not overwhelming your home’s electrical system once everything goes on at the same time. If your entire Christmas decor is just a collection of a tree plus a few lighted lawn displays, you’ll probably fine even if you don’t take any additional precautions. If you plan on going all out with outdoor lightning, however, you might need special power cords and outlets that can take the added electrical stress on the house.

And don’t forget to have a backup generator all ready to go. While you don’t want to rely on that to light your home, you also don’t want to be in the dark if the lights happen to go out on Christmas Eve.

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Top 4 Most Devastating Florida Hurricanes in History

florida hurricanes

Flood in the Belle Glade area after the 1928 storm. (Historical Society of Palm Beach)

Being prepared for a disaster by having a home standby generator can make a world of difference. For starters, a standby unit means you don’t have to rely on gas (which could be in short supply after a major natural disaster) and you don’t have to head outside to refill the unit during or after the storm.

Unfortunately, some of the worst Florida hurricanes to ever hit the region happened long ago, before emergency power systems, generators and other helpful devices were invented.

Here’s a breakdown of the five worst hurricanes in the history of Florida.

Key West, 1919

Although Key West has been struck by hurricanes numerous times, none have been as devastating as the one that landed there in 1919.The hurricane’s death toll could be as high as 800 (the exact numbers are unknown), with many of those deaths happening onboard ships that were sailing in the surrounding waters.

One of the reasons for the massive damage caused by this hurricane was how long the storm lasted. Although the strongest winds (110 mph) only lasted for a few hours, the storm lingered over South Florida for 38 hours. The sustained 39 mph winds made evacuation difficult and might have affected how many lives were lost in the storm.

After striking Florida, the storm then continued on to Corpus Christi, Texas, becoming the first hurricane ever to hit the city directly.

Okeechobee, 1928

The most devastating hurricane in the history of Florida, Okeechobee killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed over 6,000 homes. That’s in addition to 2,000 other people who died when the hurricane struck the Caribbean, especially the islands of Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe. In Florida, the hurricane was particularly devastating because it struck farther inland, taking residents by surprise.

Aside from the destruction brought over by the 125 mph winds, Okeechobee also caused massive floods.The rain that came with the storm caused the Lake Okeechobee dikes to crumble, inundating the surrounding area.

The Herbert Hoover Dike was constructed in the lake after the hurricane to help control the movement of the water and prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

Labor Day, 1935

Known as the Labor Day Hurricane or the Florida Keys Hurricane, was a category 5 hurricane that struck the upper Florida Keys. The hurricane is still considered the “most intense landfalling U.S. hurricane,” with winds reaching 185 mph.

Over 400 people died during the storm, including 200 World War I veterans living in a local work camp. The hurricane derailed trains, washed away bridges, and completely destroyed the village of Islamorada. A storm surge almost 20 feet tall washed away entire area of the Florida Keys.

Andrew, 1992

Called “the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history,” Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in August of 1992. It caused over $25 billion in damage and hit the state with winds as strong as 177 mph.

Andrew caused a relatively low number of fatalities: 23 people. However, it left over 175,000 homeless and almost 1.5 million people without electricity for days. The hurricane also caused massive natural destruction, knocking down over 70,000 trees in the Everglades. Floods and heavy rain caused additional damage and required massive evacuations.

While installing a home standby generator will not necessarily keep you safe when Florida hurricanes hit, it can still be a great ally during the storm’s aftermath. Keep in mind that in many cases, people return to their homes after the storm has passed but before electric power is restored. Having a home generator means you’ll be able to cook, have access to warm water and feel safer during a moment of crisis.

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Why Generator Maintenance is Essential for Households with Young Children

Why Generator Maintenance is Essential for Households with Young ChildrenHouseholds with young children find a power outage particularly difficult to deal with. Babies and toddlers need a level of care that’s challenging enough under normal circumstances, and dealing with them during bad weather or other disruptions is even harder. Apart from calming the panic a violent storm could cause, it’s necessary to keep the home running as smoothly as possible.

Even if you have a home standby generator, you need to have regular generator maintenance done to be sure it will perform reliably when you need it to do so. Without emergency power that kicks in automatically when necessary, this is what you’ll end up facing:

Safety Concerns

This is the primary concern of parents with young children, and during a power outage people typically engage in a number of dangerous activities, including:

  • Setting up lighted candles in all the rooms, which can be knocked over without warning and cause a fire
  • Cooking and heating water on camping or propane stoves, which are a fire hazard if used indoors and doubly dangerous in the event of a fire started by a candle
  • Going to sleep without arming the alarm, making them vulnerable to intruders, smoke and fire
  • Leaving electrical appliances plugged in, which may succumb to an energy surge when the power comes back on

Installation of a home standby generator will help to avoid these dangerous situations, provided the unit you purchase is the right size for your home and you keep it in good condition with regular generator maintenance.

Family Food Issues

Keeping your family fed is vital, especially if you have babies and young children in the home. You’re limited with the items you can cook on a makeshift stove, and it’s not always possible to feed convenience meals or cold food. If you don’t have an emergency power supply you can tap into during a loss of power, make sure you keep foods such as breakfast cereals, canned fruit and baked beans in the pantry. Any of these can be eaten with little to no preparation, and if you turn it into an adventure meal you’re less likely to find your toddler refusing to eat.

Entertainment

We’re so accustomed to turning on the Cartoon Network to keep the kids quiet during busy periods such as meal preparation, that we probably don’t know what we’d do without it. When a power outage hits, television goes along with all the other electronic entertainment devices such as iPods, iPads, Wiis and Play Stations. Laptops might work for a while on battery power, but chances are your Intenet connection runs off the power so that will die. Without an emergency power source that gets regular generator maintenance, you’ll find yourself reinventing “parlour” games like charades, building blanket forts in the dining room and digging out coloring books and crayons.

Make sure you do regular generator maintenance to keep your home standby unit operating at peak performance, all year round.

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How to Choose a Home Generator That’s Perfect for Your Needs

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You’ll need to choose the right home generator to continue life as normal during a power outage

Choosing a home standby generator to provide emergency power during an outage is an exact science. Generators come in a range of sizes and capabilities, and if you want to know how to choose a home generator for your particular needs, the first thing you have to do is determine what your requirements are going to be.

Questions to Ask

Ask yourself these questions to help identify the appliances you need to operate to carry on life as normal:

  • Do I have a security system or alarm that requires electricity, and how safe is my family without it?
  • What temperatures does my region typically get during potential outage seasons? (Tip: If these happen during summer, will you need to run A/C or is your home designed to make the most of natural airflow?)
  • How much perishable food do I usually have in stock, and will it outlast a one- or two-day (or week) power outage?
  • Does anyone in my household require refrigerated medication or the use of life-saving electrically-powered medical equipment?
  • Is my home prone to flooding during heavy rains if the sump pump is out of action due to the power outage?

Your answers to these questions (and others you may think of) will highlight the number of circuits you need to be able to operate in the event of a power failure that lasts longer than a couple hours.

Calculate Your Usage

Based on your responses to these questions, you can calculate the amount of power you’re going to need during a power outage. That will enable you decide how to choose a home generator that will supply enough power. Use the Consumer Reports free wattage calculator to determine how much emergency power you need to keep your home going for the duration of the outage. Remember to take account of the size of appliances such as AC – you may need more power to operate a 15,000 BTU AC than you do for a 5,000 BTU unit.

Select a Location

While you’re figuring out how to choose a home generator, don’t forget to think about where you’re going to put it. Location is an important aspect of your choice, because whole-home generators aren’t small items. You can’t install it in your basement out of the way, either; you need to have it located outdoors and comply with safety requirements to have it a certain distance away from the house. Generator emissions consist of carbon monoxide, which is responsible for the death of close to 100 Americans each year and thousands of emergency room visits. So your generator has to be far enough from the home to avoid affecting the air your family breathes. You may also want to enclose it in a cabinet or housing to soundproof it and protect it from the elements, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate the unit.

Choose Your Fuel

Most whole-home generators are powered by natural gas, although liquid propane is also an option. To run a large home’s emergency power on propane will require you to refuel the generator every few hours, which could be problematic during an outage lasting days or weeks. Get your home generator professional to help you determine how to choose a home generator and advise you on the best type to install for your purposes.

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How Much Does Hurricane Season Really Cost Homeowners?

emergency power, power outageIn spite of predictions for an above-average 2013 hurricane season, it’s been relatively quiet so far. With three months left to go, however, South Florida could still be hit with a devastating storm. According to FEMA, late August and September are considered the high points of the hurricane season because of warm water temperatures that help fuel the storms. So while you’re counting your blessings that we’ve had nothing more than some wet weather so far, it might be good to consider what a major tropical storm or hurricane could cost a home without an emergency power supply.

Temporary Shelter

The U.S. Department of Human Services says that temporary accommodation for both people and pets are one of the biggest expenses during a power outage. Nearby hotel or motel rooms required at the last minute typically run at around $100 to $150 a night depending on the size, while kenneling for pets can run at $50 per pet per night. If the outage lasts for 3 to 5 days before power is restored, it could cost the average family of four with two pets around $1,500 just to have light, security, hot water and the ability to cook food. While some of this may be covered by insurance, the deductible is for your own account—as is the inconvenience. In addition, the hotel stay could be extended if there are damages to your home that need to be repaired before you can return.

Repairing Damages

Damages caused by the lack of emergency power are by far the highest expense, costing Americans some $150 billion a year according to Purdue University Energy Center’s Smart Grid initiative. Costs in this category range from around $3,000 to remove household mold caused by damp during the outage, to $20,000 or more in basement flood damage due to inoperable sump pump mechanisms. Once again some of this is covered by insurance, but you would do well to check the fine print on your policy to ensure that damages are covered if your sump pump isn’t working—for any reason.

Replacement Costs

When the refrigerator is off, your food spoils. When your AC isn’t working, the humidity gets into your closets and causes mold, which can damage your clothing and linen. Depending on the severity and duration of the power outage, you may find yourself having to replace significant quantities of these items. Insurance typically doesn’t cover much in the way of foodstuffs or personal effects, so you could be on your own with this aspect. If you have an emergency power source as a backup, however, you can ensure that none of these problems arise.

Healthcare Services

Health care is always the most critical issue during a power outage. If your household includes someone with disabilities, a patient who needs refrigerated medication or the use of electrical equipment such as a dialysis machine, an emergency power supply such as a home standby generator enables you to keep everything running smoothly. If you don’t have one, the costs involved in transporting a patient safely to temporary accommodation with the equipment he or she needs can be frightening—and these are mostly not covered by insurance.

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Why Whole Home Generators Beat Portables

whole home generatorsWhen homeowners experience a power outage, it’s often the first time they stop to consider the option of installing an emergency power supply. Don’t be tempted by portable generators; sure, they are cheaper and take less work to install, but there are a number of reasons why whole home generators are a better bet than a portable one. Here are some of the main factors you should consider before making your choice:

Safety

The safety of home generators is a primary concern. With portable generators, there’s a degree of risk involved in the continual refueling needed to keep the generator going. Most portables use gasoline or propane to operate, and gasoline is particularly volatile during handling. Both Subaru and American Honda recently issued recalls for portable generators, due to a fire hazard caused by potential leaks in the fuel hoses.

In addition, regardless of the type of fuel used, portable generators produce colorless, odorless carbon monoxide gas. This can be lethal in high enough concentrations, particularly for someone with a compromised immune system. Whole home generators don’t require refueling or complex home operation, so your safety risks are minimized.

Cost Benefit

The cost of installing whole home generators is substantially higher than portables, we know that. There are a number of benefits, however, which we believe should be taken into account when you’re making your decision:

  • Investment value – by installing a whole-home generator you increase the resale value of your property by at least 75% of the installation cost over a five-year period.
  • You might save on labor charges for installation, but you’ll pay in the long term with the numer of personal hours you’ll have to put in to starting, refueling and maintaining the portable.
  • Calculate the cost of traveling to and from your nearest gas station multiplied by the number of trips you’ll have to make to get through a 7-day power outage.

When you consider these cost implications, the higher-priced whole-home generator becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Convenience

If your power outage lasts anything longer than a couple hours, you’re going to work as hard as the portable generator does to keep it running. The gas typically lasts around 4 to 5 hours in most models, which means to keep it operational you’ll need to come home in the middle of the work day and set your alarm to wake up at 3 am. If the weather is lousy, you’re refueling the generator in the dark on a cold, wet and windy night! Besides, even if you live near a gas station you’ll need a backup supply, because if the power outage affects the whole area the gas pumps may not be working. Whole-home generators use a natural gas installation so re-fueling isn’t required.

Efficacy

There’s only so many circuits that a portable generator can power, even if you buy a big one. And of course, the larger the equipment the more fuel it uses. That means you essentially have to choose between whether to run your AC or your refrigerator, and whether to cook or keep medication at the right temperature. You usually can’t do it all. A whole-home generator starts automatically and uses clean power, so there’s no fuss, no smell and no choosing between amenities.

For an assessment of your power requirements and an estimate to install a generator to power your home during an outage, contact us to request a quote today.

 

 

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3 Ways South Florida Power Outages Can Affect Your Health

3 Ways South Florida Power Outages Can Affect Your HealthIf you live in a household with people with special needs, all the expensive equipment in the world won’t help them unless you can operate it. During a South Florida power outage, it’s possible that you could spend hours, days or in extreme cases, weeks without power, while the authorities work to restore infrastructure damaged by the storms we get. Here are some of the issues you could face if you find yourself in this situation.

Refrigerated Medication

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses in America today, with around 22 million suffering from type 1 and 2 combined. Type 1 diabetics typically require daily insulin injections, and insulin needs to be refrigerated to be fully effective. “Items that require refrigeration, like insulin, should not be relied upon for full effectiveness if they could not be maintained at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer,” says Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein. “Temperature -sensitive drugs lose potency if not refrigerated and should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible. “ This can be a costly process if you have a supply of medication on hand and you lose power for any reason.

Other frequently-used medications that need to be refrigerated are:

  • Amoxil® (amoxicillin) — suspension
  • Cipro® (ciprofloxacin) — suspension
  • Mycostatin® (nystatin) — pastilles
  • Thyrolar® (liotrix)
  • Vibramycin® (doxycycline) — suspension
  • Xalatan® (latanoprost) — eye drops
  • Zithromax® (azithromycin) — suspension

Click here for a full list of medicines requiring refrigeration. To protect your family from the problems associated with storing these types of medication during a power outage, install an emergency power source such as a home standby generator.

Oxygen Equipment

Respiratory problems such as COPD and asthma are on the rise with an estimated 20 million Americans affected by these conditions. Many of them reside in Florida, which is reported to be one of the top places to live for reduced symptoms. In households with patients suffering from these illnesses, oxygen equipment and nebulizers are common. Some people use oxygen delivered in tanks or cylinders, while others use oxygen produced at home using concentrator equipment, which requires electricity to operate. If your area experiences a power outage resulting from bad weather or infrastructure failure, your concentrator won’t work unless you have an emergency power supply. A home standby generator will enable you to maintain your oxygen supply without a hiccup, using natural gas lines that are installed in your home.

Wheelchair Lifts

The invention of the wheelchair lift has made a huge difference to the lives of many people who have mobility constraints. Many of the homes in South Florida have more than one level, and are the only way to get around the house for someone who is wheelchair bound or otherwise unable to climb stairs. What happens when you experience a power outage and are unable to move between the different levels of your home? An emergency power supply such as a home standby generator is the only way to ensure that you aren’t incapacitated by electricity outages.

For an assessment of your power requirements and an estimate to install a generator to power your home during an outage, contact us to request a quote today.

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Gas Appliances Still Need Emergency Power During an Outage

Gas Appliances Still Need Emergency Power During an OutageChanging from electrical to gas appliances has a number of benefits, but it doesn’t mean you no longer need electricity. Many appliances may use natural gas for operating purposes, but they still require electrical power to manage certain features. This means that during a power outage, all the gas in the world isn’t going to help you unless you have a source of emergency power. Here are some of the gas appliances that use power:

Stoves

Gas stoves are great. Not only are they trendy because all the celebrity chefs use them, but it’s much easier to control the temperature precisely than most electric stoves. Certain models need electricity to ignite, while others use a spark generated by a piezo crystal. However, if your gas stove has any of these features, you probably need power to operate them:

  • Oven light
  • Clock or timer
  • Rotating grill or plate
  • Fan-assisted oven

Of course, when you’re preparing food in an emergency you can probably use the stove without the benefit of these options, but if you want to be truly independent during a power outage, a home standby generator is the answer to providing all the conveniences you’re accustomed to.

Hot Water Heaters

Depending on the model you buy, your gas hot water heater may need emergency power to operate the pilot light. While many older models had a pilot light that could be ignited with a match, for safety purposes most modern versions have an electronic one.

Then there’s the thermocouple, which generates voltage to hold the gas valve open. Although it uses only the tiniest amount of power, it’s necessary for safe operation of the heater. Thermostats and timers also both operate using electricity, so in the event of a power outage your hot water may be useless without a home standby generator to keep it going.

Air Conditioning

Natural gas air conditioners aren’t new, and were popular during the 1940s and 1950s. New technology to make them safer and more efficient coupled with the threat of power outages is giving them a new lease on life. While you can operate a gas air conditioner without emergency power there’s no way to control the temperature without an electric thermostat, so it’s necessary to operate the unit manually by switching it on and off as needed. By connecting a gas air conditioner to your home standby generator, however, you can make sure that your home is cool and comfortable at all times.

Furnaces

While furnaces are seldom needed (or even installed!) in most homes in the South Florida area, this is another example of a gas appliance that requires emergency power to operate effectively. Igniting the furnace, operation of the thermostat and air blowers all require electricity, so in times of power outage it’s essential that you have back up power such as that provided by a home standby generator.

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