(NAPSI)—In the dark reality of living without electricity, it's best to set an emergency preparedness plan ahead of time. Understanding backup power supply options will be critical to surviving a blackout.

In March, a wintry windstorm in Michigan caused a power outage so large that utility crews from other states traveled to lend a hand. This record weather event cut power to over 1 million residents and left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity for almost a week. Widespread outages like this might have caught some homeowners off guard, but preparedness measures now need to include a backup power plan.

Is backup power supply an option?

Two basic options exist for homeowners: portable generators and home standby generator systems. Both solutions can keep the house lights on, appliances working and, in the event of a weather-related power outage or other emergency, will keep the home the safest place to ride out the storm. Understanding the differences and capabilities between these two options makes selecting the best backup power plan much easier.

Homeowners can visit Generac.com and schedule an in-home consultation to learn about proper power sizing and discuss backup power needs as a part of a preparedness plan.

Portable generators: An instant but temporary backup power supply

Portable gasoline generators are available at just about any home improvement retailer and work well as a quick solution to roll out during an outage. Generally, a portable unit is low maintenance, but during National Preparedness Month, Generac Power Systems reminds users that they should check and run their generator and even refresh the tank of gasoline to be ready for the season. Additionally, Generac advises on portable generator safety: These units need to be taken outside and kept 25 feet away from an opening to the home to keep carbon monoxide fumes outside.

Home standby generators: The permanent backup power supply

When outages happen, the home standby generator is the automatic solution. A unit like the Generac Guardian plumbs into the home's existing natural gas or propane line, turning on automatically when utility power fails.

These generators are installed just outside the house like an air-conditioning unit. They can be set to exercise weekly and can even send the homeowner updates using a service like Mobile Link™ about its successful exercise, change in status or low battery, as well as maintenance reminders or fault alerts. Unlike portable generators, home standby generators need to be professionally installed and sized to fit the home, so homeowners should allow for an installation process.

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)