Though the weather is unseasonably nice this week, we know worse will be on its way. After reading our last couple of blogs, you should have your heat running smoothly and odor free, and you should have taken steps to avoid frozen pipes. Now, start planning for a power outage. Not everyone will have a power outage this winter, but as a cold winter is predicted, you will want to make sure you’re prepared just in case a storm forces you to be without power for any extended period of time.
Experiencing a power outage in the winter differs from a power outage in the summer. In both cases, consequences can be severe if you are not prepared. In the summer, the excessive heat can cause health problems and spoiling food and medication is a danger. In the winter, colder temperatures and darker days are what you need to focus on.
Prepare before an outage by having plenty of blankets and warm clothes. Rev up your generator and make sure you have enough fuel to run it. If you have a wood or coal stove used for heating, make sure you have enough supplies to get through a storm. The Center for Disease Control also recommends that you have a working chemical fire extinguisher and a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, both with new batteries.
They also recommend that you have the following items on hand, in case of an outage:
- Drinking water
- Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
- Non-electric can opener
- Baby food and formula (if baby in the household)
- Prescription drugs and other medicine
- First-aid kit
- Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
- Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
If the power does go out, keep your pets and family home and safe. Unplug appliances and electronic equipment – this will prevent problems when the power is restored. Never use a generator indoors. Monitor the temperature of your food and medication, and discard any questionable items. Avoid using candles as a source of light. Instead, use battery powered lanterns and flashlights. Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked emergency radio so that you can monitor the storm.
Going from fall to winter can seem like a leap at times. But by being prepared, you can avoid dangers like frozen pipes and broken furnaces, and enjoy the warm and fuzzy feelings of the season.