Nine-year anniversary of the Great Blackout in North America

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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Nine years ago at 4:11 p.m. ET, 50 million homes and businesses lost electrical power in Eastern North America during the Great Blackout for up to a few days. There were no lights, computers, refrigerators, air conditioners and traffic lights in most of Ontario, New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. It was the largest blackout in North American history.

The blackout was possibly caused by a power surge in an American power plant. Whatever the reason, people proved that while it wasn’t convenient, they were able to live for a few days without electrical power.

If nothing else, this event should remind people of two things, even here in Moose Jaw where there was no blackout at that time. First, the modern reliance on power is not necessary and it is a reminder that we should try not to waste energy. Second, because it’s impossible to tell when or for how long a power outage will occur, the best solution is to be prepared.

There are people, particularly in the affected regions who spend the anniversary of the blackout intentionally reducing their power usage. Reducing power usage for one day may be effective for that one day, but in the long run it doesn’t really amount to very much.

The best way to conserve power is to do it on a regular basis, even if it’s as simple as turning off lights when you’re not in a room. It’s not about going without power intentionally for a few days.

Limiting power use is an easy way to limit the depletion of non-renewable resources and help the environment. Not to mention it’ll help decrease the dollar amount of your power bill.

Power outages can be scary, especially for a prolonged period of time. Ignoring the fact that there is no way to cook food or turn on the air conditioning or heat, there is also a fair amount of time in the dark. The easiest solution is to keep a flashlight handy in the home, just in case. That way if the power goes out, you can at least find your way to wherever it is you’re trying to go if there is no sunlight streaming in from windows or if you’re in a place where there are no windows.

Preparedness is not overrated and saving energy doesn’t hurt anyone nor does it take too much thought. The 2003 blackout taught us that while society doesn’t function well without power for several days, chaos doesn’t have to ensue. Be smart and save power and everything will work out fine in the end.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.

Organizations: Ontario, New York City, North American

Geographic location: North America, Chicago, Detroit Cleveland Moose Jaw

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