Taking the time to prepare for a winter power outage can mean the difference between comfortably riding it out or surviving it in misery. It can get scary when the electricity we all take for granted is no longer available, but in winter, it's even worse. You may be without heat for long periods of time, your pipes may freeze, or you may be snowed in and stranded in your home for days.
Start getting prepared by keeping the following supplies on hand:
- Water, one gallon per person per day, for a minimum of 3-7
- Non-Perishable Food
- (Don’t forget to add water and food in to your equation for pets.)
- Flashlights/Batteries, Battery-Operated Lanterns
- First Aid Kit/Prescriptions
- Manual Can Opener
- Extra Blankets & Cloths
- Emergency Weather Radio - Consider Hand-Crank or Solar Units
- Cellphone Car Charger
Portable Generators & Safe Use
Portable generators can help with preparation for such power outages while providing peace of mind. As with all things involving electricity, the incorrect use of generators can create potentially hazardous situations. Here are some safety tips:
- Read all the information on installation, safety and maintenance, and follow instructions regarding maintenance and testing.
- Always isolate the generator from the utility supply system by plugging appliances, directly into generator itself. Don’t try to wire your home’s electrical system into the generator. The generator could feed power back into utility lines as power crews work to restore your electric service, putting those workers’ lives at risk!
- Take care when fueling your generator! Never try to refuel the unit while it’s operating. Avoid spilling gasoline or other fuels on hot components.
- Provide adequate ventilation and air cooling for the generator to prevent overheating and the accumulation of toxic exhaust fumes.
- Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.
- Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
- Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
- Exercise caution around portable generators, which have exposed engine parts that could burn or injure an individual. Keep children and pets away from a running generator.
If needed, you will be happy that you had the foresight to “Get Ready”.
Stocking a few essential power outage supplies helps keep you safe and healthy. Also, don’t forget to check on family, friends and neighbors, especially if they are elderly, to make sure they are ok.
Check out ready.gov to make sure you are fully prepared for winter weather.
Stay safe and Warm this Winter!