The past few years have jolted people all over the country with extreme weather events. From droughts to floods, tornadoes to fluke freezing temperatures and snowstorms, severe weather can create havoc and leave horrendous destruction in its wake. Wherever you live, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Here are some tips for surviving a winter power outage.
The worst thing that can happen to you in a power outage is to be caught unprepared. Get some plastic bins or designate a storage space in your home for a three- to seven-day supply of nonperishable foods and bottled water. Don’t forget an extra manual can opener. Figure out how you are going to safely cook during a power outage—you may have to resort to using the backyard grill.
Stock up on batteries and keep a spare USB power source for your phone charged up. Get a solar-powered or crank radio for weather updates in case you run out of batteries. Fill the car with gas before the storm hits, as pumps may not work during an outage.
Make sure you have fresh backup batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are real risks during a power outage.
Keep any necessary medications on hand in sufficient supply. If someone in your home requires electrically powered medical equipment, contact your electric utility company to register for any emergency assistance program they may have in place.
Retain the Heat You’ve Got
Weatherstrip doors and windows, and add insulation to your home if it needs it. Insulate pipes that run through uninsulated spaces or along exterior walls.
Have your chimney or wood stovepipe and vents cleaned, and keep a good supply of firewood available. Never use gas-powered heaters or gas stoves for indoor heat because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you own a portable generator, make sure you understand how to use it safely, outdoors, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Have an electrician install a generator interlock system to avoid illegal (and potentially fatal, to electric utility workers) backfeeding to power lines outside your home.
During a Power Outage
Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed. If the freezer is full, items in it will last longer because frozen items will keep each other cold when they’re packed closely together. Refrigerated foods may not last longer than 48 hours.
Keep all outside doors closed, and have everyone in the house stay together in one smaller room as much as possible to benefit from each other’s body heat. Close off the other rooms in the house. Dress in layers.
Let the sunshine in, but capture its heat with dark blankets placed on the floor where the sunlight strikes, or cover a particularly sunny window with the blanket so that it soaks up heat and radiates it back into the room.
For more tips for surviving a winter power outage, Ready.gov has a helpful resource page devoted to power outages.