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Coping With a Winter Power Outage
Among the less-pleasant aspects of winter are ice storms and blizzards – and the power outages they can cause. Experts suggest that you take steps to ensure the safety of yourself and your family in case you lose power when it is freezing outside.
Of course, power outages can happen without warning and at any time of year. You should always have flashlights, a battery-operated radio and fresh batteries – and know where to find them.
Also, make sure your furnace is working properly and your house is as weatherproof as possible. If you lose power when it is cold outside, you don’t want to lose precious heat through leaky windows or doors. And even if you don’t lose power, weatherproofing will help cut your heating bill.
If you live somewhere that outages are common, consider getting a generator. However, always consult a professional to help you choose a generator, install it and show you how to operate it.
If a Storm is Forecast
When the weather forecasters are predicting the kind of storm that could cause power outages, it’s time to take additional steps, including:
During an Outage
- If you or any members of your family take medication, make sure that you have enough to last for several days. Although you probably will have to move to safety if the outage lasts that long, you might not be able to fill your prescriptions, especially if pharmacy computers are down.
- If you have pets, make sure you have adequate pet food.
- Fill your bathtub with water, in case your water pump stops working.
- Stockpile food that does not require cooking. If you will be opening cans, make sure you have a manual can opener. Also, stockpile bottled water.
- If you have a fireplace, have seasoned firewood ready.
- Fill up your car’s gas tank, because gas station pumps need electricity to operate.
- Remember that your electric garage door will not operate during a power outage. Know how to open your garage door manually. And if you usually enter the house through the garage, make sure you have a key to an alternate entrance.
- Charge up your cell phones and tablets.
Monitor the radio for information about conditions, and stay indoors; downed power lines can be extremely dangerous. In addition:
- Conserve as much heat as possible. Don’t open doors to the outside, and keep the refrigerator closed.
- Dress in layers, including such winter wear as long underwear, sweatshirts, sweaters and gloves. Add layers as you get cold; don’t layer up as soon as the lights go out.
- Dress babies and children in layers and cover them in blankets as needed.
- Don’t call 911 unless you have an actual emergency.
- Don’t use your oven to heat your house.
- If you have elderly or handicapped neighbors or neighbors with small children, check on them to make sure they are OK.
Finally, be smart. If the outage goes on too long, leave your house and go somewhere safe, like to the home of a relative or friend who has power.