How To Prepare for a Power Outage in the Winter

How To Prepare for a Power Outage in the Winter

How To Prepare for a Power Outage in the Winter

We rely on electricity for so many things in today’s connected world, from entertainment to essential medical devices. A power outage is inconvenient at best, but a winter power outage can be far worse. To make things worse, power outages that accompany severe winter weather can last for days or even weeks. With many homes dependent on electricity for heating, cooking, and other essential activities, it’s important to know how to prepare for a power outage in the winter.

Check out these winter power outage tips to prepare your home and your family for severe winter weather.

How To Prepare for Winter Power Outages

Prepping for a possible power outage should be part of readying your home for winter. The more you do in advance of impending severe weather, the more likely you’ll be to make it through a power outage safely. Here are four action items you can complete that will help ensure you stay safe and warm when the power is out.

1.) Do a Home Audit

Sit down and make a list of all the items in your home that require electricity to function. They may include your stove and oven, essential medical equipment, or your heating system. Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and flashlights — you should have at least one for each family member — and replace them with fresh, new ones if necessary.

Consider how you will cook and heat your home in the event of a prolonged power outage. Ensure that whichever method you use to prepare food and provide warmth is well supplied with fuel for several days, whether that be a generator, wood stove, propane camp stove, or gas grill. Be sure to store your implements safely and exercise caution when using flammable items. Additional steps to take include:

  • Insulate water pipes that are against external walls or unheated spaces to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Put together a car emergency kit for each vehicle in case you need to leave your home due to an extended period of no power.

If someone in your home relies on medical equipment powered by electricity, be sure that the backup battery works. The Americans with Disabilities Act National Network has a checklist to help you plan for alternative power sources during winter power outages. Some of the most important tips include:

  • Talk to your healthcare or medical-equipment provider about how to use your device during a power outage.
  • Inform your power company about your medical devices and ask to be added to their priority reconnection list.
  • Let the fire department know that you are dependent on medical life-support devices.

2.) Stay Informed and Alert

The best way to stay ahead of inclement weather is to know it's coming before you're in the middle of it. Some of the easiest ways to ensure you're informed about your local weather include:

  • Sign up for weather alerts and safety information from local and national services.
  • Secure a personal weather station with custom alerts to give you a heads-up so that you can make last-minute preparations for severe winter weather.
  • Buy a battery-operated or solar-powered radio with an NOAA band to stay informed of the news and weather events in the event of a power outage.

3.) Stock Up on Necessities

Depending on the severity of the storm, you may not be able to get out to replenish supplies — and those supplies may be in short supply once a storm hits. This list of emergency supplies and items is a good starting point for emergency winter preparedness:

  • Batteries in a variety of sizes and types.
  • One or more safety lanterns to provide room lighting.
  • At least a three-day supply of nonperishable food, such as crackers, nut butter, protein bars, canned meat or fish, shelf-stable meals, and dried fruit.
  • A car charger or other alternative charger — solar or hand-cranked — for your phone.
  • A manual can opener (yes, buy an extra one just in case).
  • Water — at least one gallon per day per person for three days.
  • A camp stove or grill for cooking (use outdoors only).
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Prescription medication and medical supplies.
  • Games, books, and other items to help pass the time without electricity.

4.) Know Your Options

Establish a family emergency plan so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a power outage. Keep an eye on the temperature inside your home to ensure that it’s safe for family members to remain in the residence. Many communities open warming stations or emergency shelters during cold-weather emergencies; check with your local authorities to find out where they would be in your area. If you have young children or older adults in your household, consider moving them to a community shelter if necessary.

winter power outage

Before a Power Outage

Winter power outages can be caused by many different types of winter weather — like wet snow, freezing rain, ice storms, and heavy winds. If extreme weather is predicted, it’s safest to assume it may result in a power outage and take a few steps to minimize the possible impact on your family.

  • If your water supply depends on a well pump or other electrical system, fill the bathtub and spare containers with water. You can use it for washing up, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet. Do not drink water from the bathtub.
  • Test your flashlights and have them handy.
  • Fully charge your phones, laptops, and other electronic devices.
  • Check the battery backup on any medical devices.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank. Gas stations rely on electricity to pump gas, so you may not be able to refuel until the power outage is resolved. If your vehicle is electric or hybrid, keep your battery fully charged.
  • Turn the temperature down as low as possible in your freezer and refrigerator. It will help keep things cold longer. Remember to turn it back up after power is restored.

During a Winter Power Outage

If you do lose power during the winter, there are some steps you can take to minimize its impact.

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to preserve food as long as possible. Typically, a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours, and a refrigerator will maintain its temperature for about four hours. If you're uncertain, a refrigerator and freezer thermometer can help you monitor the temperature for food safety.
  • Monitor the radio for updated information about storm conditions.
  • Unplug electronic devices and appliances to avoid damage from possible power surges when power returns.
  • Turn all faucets on to a fast drip to avoid frozen pipes. Open the cabinet doors under bathroom and kitchen sinks to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Report any downed power lines to your local utility company.

When the weather outside is frightful, make sure you’re prepared in case you have to stay inside. AcuRite weather stations and home monitoring devices can help you stay informed and aware of conditions in and around your home so you can keep your family safe throughout the year.

February 23, 2022
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