Monday, September 29, 2008

Reflections On The Big Wind

The recent wind storm and resulting power outages are behind us but it might be a good time to prepare for the next one. Hopefully the next power outage will not be as protracted. But we will have one. Here are some observations and suggestions.

For certain, Channel 9 did the best job of providing coverage and information from the very outset of the storm. Their coverage was better than any other TV station and all the local radio stations combined. I would have expected that the station that bills itself as “BIG ONE,” WLW radio, would have provided a better service. They were late to the party and as is their custom, they used a lot of air time telling people how great they were. In the days following the storm the time was taken up taking calls from anyone and everyone who had a gripe about the power company.

Unfortunately, since most people don’t have battery operated TVs or radios that have the TV audio feature, Channel 9’s programming was not widely available during the storm and in the days following. This prompts a reminder that after Feb. 17th your battery operated TV and your radio’s TV audio feature will not work. We will discuss some options in future columns.

It sure did not take Cincinnati Bell long to run ads in the newspaper and on TV pointing out that Time Warner’s Digital Phone Service requires you to have electric power while the Cincinnati Bell service does not. Actually Cincinnati Bell provides the needed electrical power. It is true that more Cincinnati Bell phones worked during and after the storm as along as the wires were not damaged. I know that this was the case in my house.

Several people told me that they lost cell phone service. Our service from Verizon stayed on throughout the period. I am not sure why some services failed. Most services, if not all, have back up generators at each tower site. Perhaps some of the interconnecting microwave dishes got out of alignment due to the high winds.

Some had problems charging their cell phone batteries. Don’t forget that you can get inexpensive chargers that work off your car battery. They really do not draw much current so if you have a decent battery you don’t need to run the engine while charging the phone.

As for lighting, many of use found that batteries were in short supply. You might want to invest in some new LED flashlights and lanterns. These new LED models will provide much brighter light, and since they draw only a fraction of the current of their incandescent older cousins, your batteries will last much longer. You can also get mini fluorescent lanterns. These get great battery life and put out light that you can actually read by.

One last suggestion …when there is a power outage it is a good idea to disconnect appliances and systems that have compressors, motors and sensitive electronic controls. Examples are computers, TV and audio gear, heat pumps and air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers, even hot tubs. Often when power is returned it can cycle on and off or have high and low voltages for the first few seconds. Devices like the ones above do not handle these spikes and lows well. They can easily be damaged.



Anonymous Jim said...

Disasters, Hurricanes, Wind Storms, We’ve seen the after-effects, entire communities without power!

Here are some tips on how to safely restore power due to unexpected power outages and safely use emergency generators.
How to Choose the Right Emergency Electric Generator

How to Safely Operate a Portable Generator and Transfer Switch

Generator Safety Frequently Asked Questions

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Jack Dominic said...

The web sites suggested by Jim are commercial. I reviewed them and the info seems to be very good.

As alwways Caveat Emptor!

9:35 PM  

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