While the winter time can provide us with a lot of fun, it also creates some risks, including power outages from snow and ice storms. There’s not much you can do to prevent the power going out, but here are some tips for how to prepare for and survive a power outage.
Before an Outage
The best way to survive a power outage is to think through what problems you might encounter and prepare for them.
- Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and several flashlights stashed in easily accessible places. Don’t forget to periodically check the batteries to make sure they still have plenty of juice.
- If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, keep some dry wood on hand. If you’ve got an electric generator, keep several gallons of gasoline around so you don’t have to waste time running to the gas station.
- Know where the water shut off valve is and how to use it so you can prevent your water pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Keep some extra blankets handy.
During an Outage
A few basic things to remember when your power goes out are conserve resources, stay warm and, most importantly, stay safe.
- Don’t go near downed power lines. Call 911 to prevent a fire or injury and also call the local electric company.
- When you lose heat in your home, dress in layers and make sure to wear a hat, preferably a warm, winter hat, not just a ball cap, because you lose most of your heat through your head.
- Look out for carbon monoxide poisoning. Because it’s a colorless, odorless gas, it’s nearly impossible to discover it without a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is created when almost anything is burned, so don’t use charcoal or gas grills or electric generators inside your home – you could also start a fire that way.
- Unplug most of your electrical appliances and machines, especially expensive equipment like computers, iPads, smart phones, kitchen appliances and clothes washers and dryers because, as the electrical company is repairing the damage, the power can surge back on, potentially damaging any electrical items plugged into a power source. You do want to leave on a light or two, though, so you know when the power comes back on.
- Many power strips now are also power surge protectors, but it’s still safer to just unplug your expensive items.
- If you have any solar landscape lights, bring them inside to give you a couple hours of light.
- Keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. Your refrigerator can stay cold for hours if you keep the door closed.
- Fill up your bathtub, sinks and any water containers you have in case you lose your water supply. If your water does go out, you can pour a bucket of water down toilet to flush it.
- If your pipes are in danger of freezing, either shut off the water and drain the pipes or keep faucets opened just a little so they are constantly dripping, which will keep them from freezing.
- You should still be able to use your garage door in a power outage. Most electric doors have a rope or cord attached to the arm that moves the door up and down, so you can pull that to release the door and then open and close it manually.
- If you’ve got important work to do and need to charge your phone, computer or other electronics, remember that you can charge them in your car – just don’t charge them for too long with the car off or you’ll kill your car battery and be even worse off.
Again, the basic rules for getting through a power outage are be prepared, stay safe and conserve your resources. If you’ve got any other power outage survival tips, please share them with us!