5 Things You Didn't Realize about Power Outages
#1 Sewage Plants
According to CNN, the power failure in September of 2011 near San Deigo "caused sewage to spill from San Diego's wastewater treatment system into the Torrey Pines State Beach area as well as the Sweetwater River." While covering home sanitation in 7 Steps for Maintaining Proper Sanitation during Power Outage, we cover the possibly for sewage to back up into your home with a power outage. But cities can have the same problem, where sewage can overflow it's containers and potentially spill into the streets and neighborhoods like it did on the San Diego beaches.
#2 Power Outage Frequency
According to Data Center Dynamics . The rates of power outages have increased by 50% from 2008 to 2014. As our electrical system is aging, it is becoming increasingly fragile and susceptible to man-caused and nature-caused disruptions.
#3 Funeral Homes
Power outages effecting funeral homes can change family plans. The embalming process of replacing bodily fluids with preservatives uses electric pumps. While it can be done with gravity, this knowledge likely only lives in textbooks (reference). Most places capable of cremating bodies use gas or propane with an electric spark. These might be able to be manually started if it didn't require electric controls of the flow of propane. Assuming gas lines are still pressurized.
Gasoline requires electricity. From pumping the gas from barrel to tanks, tanks to delivery trucks, trucks to gas stations, gas stations to your car. Each step of the way requires an electric pump. Some of these pumps may be run off a gas engine but some do not. A power outage has the potential to massively impact gasoline availability, even if your individual gas station has power.
#5 Post Office
Post Offices still deliver social security and other payments. A power outage preventing these checks from being delivered could cause many dependent on them to be short-changed. While your local post office (and bank to deposit the check) may be operational, if other post offices are out of commission for a short while it could seriously delay delivery. This would have the most impact on the elderly, disabled, Veterans and many others relying on the mail for their income checks.
This article is number 6 in our power outage series, if you want to read the others:
- 5 Steps to Evaluating Water Security during a Power Outage
- 8 Steps to Evaluating Food Preparedness for Power Outages
- 7 Steps for Maintaining Proper Sanitation during Power Outage
- 7 Steps for Heating Your Home During a Power Outage
- 7 Steps for Evaluating Lighting Options During Power Outage
Steps To Take Today
- Research the closest sewage treatment plant to see if you are near the spill zone.
- Prepare for more frequent power outages. Learn all you can now, as you can't read this article without power.
- Understand embalming may not be possible during a power outage.
- Reduce your dependence on gasoline by having a bike or other options.
- Understand the post office can have delays, and try to prepare financially for a payment delay.
Power outages can have strange and unknown consequences. We can't prepared for every situation we will encounter but thinking ahead can give us an advantage. Of course, in the moment you will always have to adapt to the situation. Hope this article helped to shed light on other aspects of a power outage, you may not have considered.