Weather-Related Power Outages: Prevention is a powerful tool
Thunderstorms, lightning, hail, torrential rain, damaging winds, tornadoes, extreme heat—there's a greater chance for any of these severe weather events to occur during the summer. Each event carries with it the potential of property damage, destruction and frustration-if or when we experience a loss of power and are unable to access internet service to use our phones, computers or TVs. While we are not able to control what Mother Nature throws at us, knowing what to do before, during and after a powerful storm may help alleviate some of the frustration, especially when it comes to accessing services for our devices.
Each year, national, state and local emergency officials designate a severe weather awareness week—complete with tornado drills—because of the devastation severe weather can cause. It seems they've learned over time that education about weather and emergency terminology with tips on how to plan in case of an emergency is the best way to prepare people to handle potentially dangerous situations and hopefully avoid serious injury. This preparation also seems like a good idea when it comes to storms and our devices: Smartphones, computers, TVs and everything else connected to the internet.
Eye to the sky
Pay attention to the weather especially when severe storms are in the forecast. This gives you lead time to control what is able to be controlled and divert possible damage to our devices (and possibly the costs and headaches that follow). It's also important to know weather-alert terms. Specifically, the difference between a watch and a warning. Watches are issued to stay vigilant—be aware that conditions are favorable for a weather event—like a severe thunderstorm – to happen. You may continue your normal events but be ready for things to change quickly. A warning means immediacy—such as a tornado has been reported or sighted—it’s imminent, you must take immediate action and seek shelter. The majority of us cannot constantly watch the sky, or the weather forecast, but there are tools available to alert you if severe weather is approaching. Some phones today are wireless-emergency-alert capable and some communities use their own weather alert system and an app. Usually, that information is found on your county or city emergency management website.
The knowledge of power
The more information we know about how things work may help us better prepare for the times when things don’t work. A general understanding of the power grid, which ultimately runs our automated comforts at home, is a good place to start. Essentially, the power grid is a complex network—a big machine with many parts. While those parts are made with sturdy materials they are still vulnerable to the elements and there is always a chance for the unexpected to happen.
All it takes is a lightning strike near a transmitter or tree falling on power lines and there is an unintentional power outage. We don’t know when or if lightning will strike or what tree or branch will fall but if we hear a storm is approaching we can prepare by unplugging devices. A power outage usually affects a smaller area like a city block or street.
High voltage blasts —power surges—might occur during storms and other weather-related events. Surges are possible after lightning strikes or when there is a high demand for electricity at once. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) studies lightning. It is a government agency under NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). They provide information about and guides for severe weather. NOAA recommends:
- Any device that uses electricity (e.g. computers, televisions, household appliances, etc.) is susceptible to a lightning strike. Electrical surges caused by lightning can damage electronics (even at some distance from the actual strike), and a typical surge protector will do little to protect the device (or the person using it) if lightning should strike. So consider unplugging certain appliances or electronics, but for your own safety do this BEFORE the storm arrives.
In the heat of the summer, when it’s hot and sticky outside, power surges also can happen —when high-powered appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators are working overtime. Source: https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/home/surge-protector3.htm
Arvig service areas are not immune to power outages–which may cause customers to lose connections to their internet and related Arvig services. Essentially, much of Arvig’s equipment is backed up by UPS (uninterruptible power supply) and generator systems. You may want your own UPS (uninterruptible power supply) on hand. However, some of the equipment out in the field, such as the essential networking devices that connect multiple subscribers to the internet backbone and feed individual customer homes—are typically fed by commercial power. If the power goes out, that system is down. Knowledge about how the power grid works helps us understand why there are some cases where customers may have power restored to their home but the power down the road, where the equipment is located, still has not regained power, thus, the customer's internet is still down.
Lastly, remember there are things you know that your service provider doesn’t know. If you see a problem, reporting it to your service provider is the first step to getting the issue resolved and your service back online.