Every year from May through October, California experiences its peak wildfire season. Over the past several years, the wildfires have become larger and more deadly. In 2019, power companies purposely shut down the power to millions of residents in an attempt to prevent fires in vulnerable areas. Again, this year, we are seeing headlines like, “California Expresses Frustration as Blackouts Enter 4th Day,” which was reported in The New York Times on Aug. 17, 2020.
Fire crew member fighting Poomacha wildfire in California Source
Emergency Evacuation Preparedness
When we read the headlines about the power outages and fires, it can make us think about what we can do about emergency preparedness. Being prepared for an emergency is one of the single best things you can do for yourself and your family. Cal Fire has put together a website geared towards helping you stay safe during California's deadly fire season. They have even created a list of things to put in an emergency supply kit.
Source: Cal Fire
Emergency Supply Kit Checklist
- Face masks or coverings
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
- Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Prescriptions or special medications
- Change of clothing
- Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
- An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
- First aid kit
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Sanitation supplies
- Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
- Don’t forget pet food and water!
- California wildfire/ power outage/ solar generator/ portable power station/backup power/emergency preparedness
Power Outage Preparedness
The power outages that disasters like the California wildfires cause can be devastating for some and leave others unable to carry out daily activities like cooking, seeing in the dark, accessing laptops or computers, and even keeping cell phones or emergency radios powered up. When the power lines stop providing power to your house, there are a few options that can help provide you with the power you need to survive, stay safe, and remain comfortable.
Power Outage Emergency Tips
- Have at least one working flashlight per person in your household. (extra batteries)
- Keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible.
- Only use fuel-powered generators outdoors and away from windows.
- Do not heat your home with a gas stove.
- Have alternate plans for refrigerating medications or using power-dependent medical devices.
- Monitor your fridge temperature and throw out any food that gets above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep plenty of water and non-perishable food available.
You can learn more about power outage emergency preparedness at ready.gov.
Most generators must be run outside with extension cords run into the house. Source
A fuel-powered generator is always an option, but there are a few drawbacks. The exhaust from gas and even propane-powered generators prohibits their use indoors. That means you are limited to either running things outside your house or running long extension cords into your house. Those cords must go through open doors or windows, which means the generator must be at least 15 feet away from those open windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. In some cases, it may be feasible to have a gas-powered generator to keep appliances like the fridge or freezer going, but physically getting cords to all of the other appliances you may still want to use is not quite that easy. On top of all of that, generators are noisy and add to pollution when they run.
Get a Portable Power Station
You know those little chargers you can buy that give your cell phone an extra boost on the go? Jackery has taken that concept and scaled it up to create a portable, rechargeable, battery-powered generator. Inside is a rechargeable lithium battery and a pure sine wave inverter that converts the DC from the battery to AC to power your electronics. There are optional solar panels you can purchase, turning the Jackery power stations into a solar generator.
They are lightweight. The Explorer 1000 weighs only 22lbs but can power a TV for 14 hours on a full charge or charge a smartphone over 100 times. The lightweight design allows you to take it room to room and use the power where you need it.
Let’s take a look at those power outage tips above and see how having a Jackery portable power station is the perfect addition for your backup power needs.
Have at least one working flashlight per person in your household. Every Jackery power station has a bright LED light with an SOS mode. This built-in light is useful in a power outage. The SOS mode flashes in the traditional sequence -- three short, three long, three short -- that lets others know when you are in distress. It is a great extra tool to have in your emergency preparedness kit.
A Jackery portable power station also allows for the use of rechargeable flashlights, which eliminates the need for extra batteries. Keep in mind that smartphones have lights on them as well. Of course, the ability to plug-in lamps, lanterns, and other light sources with a Jackery portable power station means you will be able to bring the light with you wherever you go.
Keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible. Spoiled food can be an expensive and wasteful side effect of a power outage. Fortunately, the Explorer 1000 can run a residential refrigerator that is rated at less than 1000W for up to 7 hours depending on conditions. The advantage is there are no cords to run through windows or gas-powered devices to roll out. You can simply grab the 22-pound power station and plug your fridge directly into it.
The Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station can run a mini-fridge for 8 hours or more.
If you want to get something smaller than the Explorer 1000, the Jackery Explorer 240 Portable Power Station will power a mini-fridge for 3+ hours, and the Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station will power one for 8+ hours.
Only use fuel-powered generators outdoors and away from windows. Jackery portable power stations do not emit fumes, run almost silently, and can be used indoors.
Do not heat your home with a gas stove. California has its fire season in the summer, but power outages happen all times of the year. If you are in a cold climate, you may be looking for something to take the chill off. Layering up with clothes should be your first line of defense against the cold, but if you have a portable power station, you can plug a small heater into it. A 200-watt heater will run for 4+ hours on the E1000. These small heaters will not warm a room up but can be used as a personal heater to keep hands, feet, and other areas of your body warm.
Have alternate plans for refrigerating medications or using power-dependent medical devices. Running a small fridge was already discussed. However, sensitive medical equipment such as CPAP machines requires a pure sine wave to function properly. Jackery’s portable power stations use pure sine wave inverters. This type of inverter mimics the sine wave of AC electrical current perfectly. The Explorer 500 and 1000 have enough power to run a CPAP machine for 13 and 17 hours respectively.
Keep plenty of water and non-perishable food available. Having food that won’t perish is important in a power outage. With the Jackery Explorer 1000, you can run an electric grill for about an hour and an electric cooking plate for about the same amount of time. This gives plenty of time to fix a hot meal even while the power is out.
The right portable power station can allow you to cook a meal indoors during a power outage.
Harvest Solar Power
Jackery power stations can be charged using a wall outlet, 12-volt car charger, and solar panels. Getting the optional solar panels with your portable power station effectively turns it into a solar generator. The power stations are designed to be able to power devices while charging via solar panels at the same time. In other words, you can charge your laptops, phones, and other devices during the day, and use the stored power from the solar panels to run your cooking appliances and lights at night. On top of all of that, you don’t have to worry about running out of gas.
Jackery has several solar panels to fit your charging needs, SolarSaga 60W Solar Panel and SolarSaga 100W Solar Panel. The optimal solution for backup power is the Jackery Explorer 1000 and two SolarSaga 100W Solar Panels. The two solar panels can be connected with an adapter that comes with the kit. Both solar panels together allow you to charge the Explorer 1000 in just 8 hours.
Stay Powered Up and Safe
Power is necessary for lighting a space, preserving food and medications, using medical devices, staying connected and informed, and cooking food. When there is a power outage, there are several options one has to generate their power. Some people just need a simple backup power source, while others will require more than one power option. Many people prefer to go with the most eco-friendly and safe option out there for their families.
A Jackery power station coupled with the optional solar panels can provide you and your family with a safe, clean, reliable backup power option that can be used indoors as part of your emergency preparedness plan. Remember that it is portable enough to take on camping trips and tailgate parties to keep your non-emergencies powered up too.