In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.