Rolling blackouts occur when delivery of electricity from a large power source is intermittently stopped in varying places across a wide area. Rolling blackouts usually occur in tandem with natural disasters or energy crises.
What is the purpose of a rolling blackout?
Rolling blackouts prevent large power sources from blacking out completely. They have been implemented in places with a high demand for electricity, such as Japan, the U.S., Pakistan, and Ukraine.
By limiting the amount of power that can be used at one time to only certain areas, power station operators can control the power output from their generators. Should a part of the generator be at risk for failure, operators can begin a rolling blackout to limit the amount of work the generators must do. From there, they can pinpoint the problem areas and find a useful fix without taking away power from an entire area.
Rolling blackouts can prevent power outages from:
- Power station faults
- Damage to electrical lines
- Damage to a substation
- Breakdown within the electrical distribution system
- Short circuit
- Electrical overload
In the case of power output problems like station faults, short circuits, and electrical overloads, a rolling blackout can mitigate the risk of explosion and prevent the acceleration of large scale disasters.
What happens during a rolling blackout?
Since power can only be distributed over a limited area, 100% of the electricity supply to some places will be temporarily cut off. Household items such as lights, outlets, and appliances will cease operation for a predetermined amount of time. You can gather information about rolling blackouts from the radio or news before they occur.
How to prepare for rolling blackouts
You should have an emergency kit in your home or business that has the necessary supplies for survival without electricity. Items to include in an emergency kit are:
- Bottled Water
- Dry or Canned Food
Be sure to lock all of your doors and windows if possible. In developed countries, law enforcement will bolster its forces to protect areas affected by a rolling blackout. You should still remain safe and prepared whenever possible.
Should a rolling blackout elevate to a blackout, don’t be afraid to use your supplies. Even if electrical generators are running at low capacity, they still have the potential to cause larger problems should they become overloaded. A rolling blackout can quickly become a city-wide blackout.
How often do rolling blackouts occur?
Rolling blackouts are relatively rare. Conditions must be extreme for a rolling blackout to take effect. While the climate in the U.S. varies widely across the country, devastating natural disasters don’t compromise the electric grid more than once every 20 years.