The electricity goes out and now you are stumbling around in the dark looking for your phone and any light source you can find. You finally find a flash light but when you find your phone you realize that the battery is dead. If the power is out for only a few hours you will be fine but what if it is out for a day or more, are you prepared? Power outages are inconvenient any time of the year but when winter weather is the cause, wide-spread, long-term outages can be devastating, dangerous and even deadly. The peace of mind that comes from being prepared for a winter storm ahead of time cannot be measured. You won't have to fight the crowds at the grocery and hardware stores, and more importantly you will not be sitting in the dark, cold, hungry or thirsty.
- Before the cold weather sets in you should take steps to weatherproof your home. It's especially important to make sure your pipes are protected. If your pipes freeze you will not have running water, add a power outage or burst pipe to the equation and you could be in trouble. You can read about easy and inexpensive ways to prep your home for cold weather in our Winterizing Your Home blog.
- Create an emergency supply kit. It's always a good idea to be prepared before winter storms or extreme cold hits. Keep the following items together: flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, car charger for your cell phone, a first aid kit, water, non perishable food, a manual can opener, tools, sanitation and personal hygiene items, fire extinguisher, matches, paper plates, cups , plastic utensils, cooler, extra pet supplies, blankets, sleeping bags, coats, hats and gloves for all family members.
- Clean your gutters and trim tree branches that could fall on structures or power lines.
- Plan for an alternate heat source, such as a fireplace, or space heater but make sure that all fuel-burning equipment is vented properly.
- Make sure to have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm. Security Essentials & Home Entertainment home alarm systems also offer the benefit of alerting homeowners and emergency personnel to a fire or carbon monoxide leak.
- Have an emergency evacuation plan. It is always a good idea to plan where you will go, if you do have to leave your home, ahead of time.
- Prepare your car. Keep your gas tank at least 1/2 full when the temperature drops to prevent freezing. Maintain fluid levels and check tires and spare for proper inflation.
- Plan for your pets. If you can not bring your outside pets indoors, a shelter elevated off the ground with three enclosed sides is best. Also, be sure to provide generous amounts of bedding such as straw or hay to help fight the cold.
- If bad weather is predicted in your area, go ahead and turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. If your power does go out it will keep the food in your fridge cooler longer.
- Don't forget to prepare for the boredom. It's time to bring out the board games, books, puzzles, crafts, etc.
- Report your outage to the utility company. If you have down power lines in you area call 9-1-1 and your utility company. Never go near down power lines!
- Create a warm room. Pick the smallest room in your house, preferably a room with no windows, and block it off with heavy blankets. If there are windows cover them with plastic for extra insulation. Consider sleeping in a tent, it will trap your body heat and keep you warmer longer.
- Never use a generator, charcoal grill, portable gas stove, or any other fuel-burning device indoors, that includes your basement and garage, because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, locate unit away from doors, windows, and vents to prevent fumes from entering your home.
- Never use your kitchen stove as a heat source.
- Eat well-balanced meals. If possible, increase your food intake to keep up your body temperature.
- Wear layers of light-weight clothing to stay warm.
- Be aware of food safety. Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. The american Red Cross says that an unopened refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours. An unopened full freezer will keep food safe for approximately 48 hours and a half full freezer for 24 hours.
- Unplug some of your major appliances. When power is restored, those appliances could create a power surge and potentially damage sensitive equipment.
- If you need medical or emergency assistance, Security Essentials & Home Entertainment security systems can provide the help you need with a push of a button.
- Restock supplies and batteries.
- Check for any property damages, and consider adding extra insulation as needed.