Black Out Blues

Posted: July 19, 2019

BLACK OUT BLUES? HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO SURVIVING A POWER OUTAGE



On Saturday, July 13 at 6:47 p.m., a series of relay switches at a Con Ed substation did exactly what they weren’t supposed to do. According to the New York Daily News, rather than divert power around a faulted 13,000 cable a block away, the failure cascaded through the company’s cables and switching systems to a substation at W. 49th St. — where relays prevented the outage from spreading further. Almost immediately, a large swath of Manhattan’s west side from 72nd St. to 30th St. was without power for the next several hours.

By blackout standards, this was relatively drama-free. Compared to the 2012 blackout caused by Superstorm Sandy that plunged half of Manhattan into darkness, or the blackout that occurred 42 years prior (to the day), which had the entire city powerless, the Blackout of 2019 was small potatoes. There were no fatalities, and it only affected 72,000 buildings. All of this, of course, is cold comfort to the thousands of people who were evacuated from Jennifer Lopez’s concert at Madison Square Garden, or the 1,319 people who waited a year for Hamilton tickets and were told to go home. Perhaps the worst affected party involved was Mayor Bill De Blasio, who had to address the situation from Iowa while pursuing his long-shot presidential bid.

The summer is here and its officially black out season. Days after the highly-reported Manhattan blackout occurred, a fire at a substation caused 2,000 Staten Islanders to lose power for a few hours. The fire was believed to be heat-related. The New York Post reported that the predicted summer heat wave, which will have mercury in the high 90s, puts New Yorkers at risk for another black out.

Are you prepared for a black out? We’ve compiled a list of five tips and preventative measures that could prove helpful if your lights go out.

1 – GET A BATTERY-POWERED CELL PHONE CHARGER



If you’re like most people, your cell phone spends its nights attached to its charger only to be unplugged first thing in the morning. So, if a power outage happens in the late afternoon or evening, chances are your phone’s battery is reasonably depleted from its use during the day. Since your phone is basically a swiss army knife of digital tools, you’ll probably be using it more during a black out. Get a battery-powered cell phone charger and keep it plugged in. That way, when the lights go out, you’ll have hours of extended phone usage.

2 – KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS



The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign reports that “Forty-six percent of individuals expect to rely a great deal on people in their neighborhood for assistance within the first 72 hours after a disaster.” From 9-11 to Superstorm Sandy, New Yorkers have a long history of showing their best sides during tough times. Curbed reported on numerous incidents of New Yorkers showing selflessness during the recent black out, whether it be sharing booze on the stoop with their neighbors or stepping in to help direct traffic.

3 – UNPLUG ELECTRONICS



Black outs can be as potentially destructive to electronics as water. As the electric company works to restore power after a black out, the whole grid becomes unstable. This often leads to power surges, which can destroy electronics. So, unplug and switch off everything in your home during a power outage. Leave one light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.

4 – KEEP TRIPS TO THE FRIDGE TO A MINIMUM



Ready.gov suggests that during a black out you should keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The average refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. When the lights go out, take half your ice out of the freezer and put it in a cooler. This will lessen your trips to the fridge in between cocktails and keep the cool in and your food from spoiling.

5 – CHECK YOUR BUILDING’S EMERGENCY LIGHT EQUIPMENT



By law, your apartment building needs to be equipped with emergency lights and exit signs that will stay powered during a black out. A black out will most likely affect your building’s elevators. Can you imagine trying to maneuver your stairwell in the dark? Be a busy body. Locate the emergency lights in on your floor and in your building’s stairwells. These lights usually have a test button on the front of the unit. If your lights don’t work, have your building manager contact PK & Altman Electric. For two generations, we’ve worked to keep New Yorkers like you safe during emergency with properly installed and maintained exit signs and emergency lights.

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