Every year, winter storms bring the risk of power outages. For some regions winters are renowned for being particularly harsh, with yearly storms and dangerously low temperatures. If the power goes out in your home, it’s important to know what to do in order to keep yourself, your family, and your house safe in extreme temperatures.
One of the best ways to stay safe is good home maintenance, an emergency survival kit ready, and to know what to do even if one is not available. With a little research and preparation, you can keep yourself and your family safe and warm until the power can be restored.
Before the Storm:
· Stock an Emergency Supply Kit
- Lights and batteries
- Matches and tinder
- Warm clothes and blankets
- Non-perishable food and drinking water
- Spare batteries & USB power bank
· Weather-Proof Your Home
- Weatherstripping and Caulk
- Attic insulation and ventilation
- Plumbing insulation or heat wire
· If You Have a Fireplace
- Inspect and clean the flue
- Stock up on indoor or nearby firewood
What to Do During a Winter Power Outage
1. Learn the Scope: How Far and for How Long?
- Use your phone to check the extent of the outage and keep track of reports on when it will be repaired. You can also step outside to see if the lights are off on your street or just for your house.
2. Turn Off Appliances
- Go around turning things off and unplugging them. This will protect devices in case of a power surge and reduce consumption if you use a generator.
3. Switch to Lanterns & Leave One Light On
- Light candles and use lanterns that have a long battery life for lighting in the home. Leave one light on so you can easily tell when the power comes back. Never leave a candle unattended and lit.
4. Listen to the Radio
- Radio broadcasts will tell you if and when it’s safe to venture outdoors.
5. Seal Doors & Insulate Windows
- Keep the cold out by blocking doors and windows. Stuff the underside of doors with a towel. If you don’t have heavy winter curtains, you can use a pillow or folded blanket against the glass to stop cold and drafts from getting through.
- Set Up Camp in the Living Room
- Make the living room your base camp. Set up sleeping bags, blankets, and make a pillow fort. Use your outdoor camping gear to keep warm and stay cozy.
7. Use Generators 20+ Feet from the House
- If you install a generator to restore the household power, make sure it is placed at least 20 feet away from the home – and is never run indoors.
8. Open the Flue and Light Periodic Fires
- If you have a fireplace, make sure the flue is working and open, then light a fire periodically to keep the house warm. Decide based on your firewood supply how long the fire should burn each day, and when.
9. Wear Layers of Warm Clothing
- To keep warm, wear several layers of your warmest winter clothes. If someone is shivering inside their layers, they may need to huddle a few layers less inside heavy blankets with another person.
10. Preserve Your Phone & Device Batteries
- Turn off phones and devices before the battery runs low. You may need them for emergencies.
11. If You Run the Car, Crack the Garage Door
- Lastly, if you use your vehicle to warm up or to recharge your devices, make sure the garage is cracked or open. Do not risk carbon monoxide buildup running a gasoline engine inside an enclosed space.
Surviving Winter Storm Power Outages Safely
Power outages during winter storms are a normal occurrence and one that everyone should be prepared for. While the power often comes back within a few minutes or hours, it’s also important to make sure your home insulation, supplies, and electrical systems are up to the task. Stay warm and safe, and always have a plan when the weather gets bad.