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For the past few months, Puerto Rico has been experiencing electrical blackouts throughout the whole island. It is something that has become the norm for the Caribbean island’s residents, but should it be that way?

Seven months ago, the island was struck by Hurricane María, which left the island’s electrical system at its worst. That was just one of the major problems that everyone in Puerto Rico went through during those first few months.

These constant blackouts are something that has to be dealt with. On April 12th, the northern area of the island experienced an electrical blackout due to a tree that fell onto one of the main electrical lines. Less than a week later, the whole island switched off again, this time because a digger excavated at the wrong place. This is how Puerto Ricans are living right now, not knowing when the electricity is going to go out again and when it will come back.

It is important to be prepared. Who knows when the next blackout will happen? Hopefully not soon, but here are a few tips on how to be prepared for the next electrical blackout:

1. Keep all your portable batteries charged. It is highly recommended to have more than one, because these blackouts usually last a day or maybe a little bit more, so you should be ready to charge your phone two or three times before the electricity comes back.

2. Always have a spare set of matches and candles in case of emergency. If you prefer flashlights, remember to keep them charged with a spare set of batteries. Keep these in an accessible place where you can easily find them in the dark.You wouldn’t want to find yourself walking around blindly, even though you claim to know your house like the back of your hand, but still you bump into everything.

3. Try to have some cash saved. Yes, I know, it’s the digital era and who even carries cash anymore? But during these blackouts, most businesses only accept cash, so having an emergency stash will really help you. Most of the time your best friend ATH Móvil will also stop working.

4. If you don’t have cash on you—don’t worry, it happens to the best of us—try to have some food that doesn’t require cooking. For example, canned food or snacks that do not need to be kept cold or microwaved. This is so you do not have to starve for hours or survive just on cereal.

5. If you don’t want to deal with number three and four, then you should definitely get a gas stove. If you already have one, then you are one step ahead.

The situation Puerto Ricans are living in is a hard one and action must be taken. Before that happens, we should be prepared for the now so common apagón.



Zoé is a student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus passionate about literature, languages and journalism. 
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