What To Do If The Power Goes Out In Winter?


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Power outages, also known as blackouts or electrical power interruptions are certainly not uncommon across the state in the US. They can happen suddenly and without warning during winter storms.

You probably already have a lot of what you need in your home to get your family through a power outage in winter. 

So, what to do if the power goes out in winter? 

If you’re not sure what to do, here are some tips for you.

What To Do If The Power Goes Out In Winter? The First Thing

The first thing you should do is look outside at other houses to determine if the power outage is isolated to just your house. If the power is isolated to your house then most likely you’ve tripped a breaker or blown a fuse. 

Most homes now use breakers which can be reset by flipping them like a switch whereas fuses must be replaced once they go out. 

Also when the power goes out, call your power company to report it first. Make sure you keep the power company contact number all the time just in case.

Next, grab flashlights and battery-operated candles (don’t forget extra batteries) and do the following actions in your home:

  1. First, unplug most of your sensitive electronics appliances like computers, home theater, and television. This is to avoid them get damaged from a power surge later.
  2. Second, pick one room to focus on being the warm spot for your family. The living room is a great place to gather everyone.
  3. Next, gather blankets, extra clothing, gloves, and socks and bring them to the family spot. If you have pets like cats, non-clumping cat litter will work. 

Check The Food In The Refrigerator

You’ve got the essentials, now you should worry about the food in your refrigerator if the power goes out in winter. If the power outage stays out less than 4 hours, the food is safe to eat and you don’t need to throw them out.

But what about if the power stays out longer? According to the foodsafety website, if the power outage is longer than 4 hours toss everything because they are not safe to eat anymore.  

But what about food in the freezer? 

If your food still has ice crystals in it, it can be frozen safely. If you have a grill cook and enjoy some of that food before it goes bad. 

If you have a gas stove, you can warm up canned soup and vegetables for a hot meal even in a cold house. But if you don’t have one, you need to invest in a portable gas camping grill. 

Some are small enough to fit in a pocket, and merely twist on to a butane canister to be ready.

Don’t Let Your Pipes Freezing

Speaking of a cold house, you should worry about your pipes freezing. When the outside temperature hits 20 degrees, that’s when many homes enter the danger zone.

Inside, open cabinets for airflow around kitchen and bathroom pipes. Let the water drip constantly. 

You can also wrap a newspaper or magazine around pipes to insulate them better especially in basements, crawl spaces, and attics. 

Just in case your pipes burst, turn off the main water supply to your house and call a plumber immediately. This is having gallons of water is essential.

If you’ve lost your water supply, you need bottles ready for your family to drink. One gallon of water per person per day.

Also read: Does power outage affect water at home?

Prepare A Go-Bag

Prepare a go-bag not only in your house but also in your car. It’s gonna have all the essential items you’re gonna need. So, here are some of the essential items that should be ready inside your a go-bag:

  • A first aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • An emergency blanket is so critical if you’re gonna be stranded potentially in your car.
  • Emergency hand warmers
  • Glow sticks which can last up to 12 hours and are much safer than candles 
  • A great pair of work gloves keep your hands warm
  • Seven days supply of any extra medications that you may need for your family members as well as your pets
  • Emergency rations hand sanitizer
  • Cash in case you can’t get access to an ATM if the power’s out for an extended period of time
  • An emergency weather radio this is gonna allow you to stay in contact with any warnings or watches that are in effect in your area and there are many models that actually are hand-cranked you can even charge your cellphone
  • Entertainment items if you’re gonna be out of power for an extended period of time. You’re gonna want something to help pass the time so this is a great place to break out your board games, cards, maybe your favorite magazine and books

Don’t Run Your Generator Inside The Building

If you use the generator, keep it outside and away from the garages, vents, windows, and doors. Never operate your generator inside a house, garage, basement, crawl space, or any enclosed space.

A generator’s exhaust contains toxic carbon monoxide, which you cannot see or even smell. If you continuously breathing carbon monoxide, it will kill you in a couple of minutes.

If you exposed to carbon monoxide for a long period of time and have one of the symptoms including headache, shortness of breath, or nausea – get fresh air, and seek medical attention immediately. 

One of the ways to detect the presence of carbon monoxide is to have a carbon monoxide alarm system installed in every room if you use a generator. 

On the side note, if you do not own a power generator, then it is recommended to get a portable generator or home standby generator for peace of mind. They’re worth the investment.

Also read: Check out small inverter generators for your backup.

If You Have To Go Somewhere

When the power goes out in winter or in inclement weather, it’s the best idea to stay at home to keep you warm and safe. But if you have to go somewhere, of course, make sure you have everything that’s in this go-bag. 

Grab some water you’re going to need it in case you do get stranded. So blankets, extra nice jackets, and of course snacks for the road in case you do get stranded for several hours and take you a while to get help. 

So this is going to help you be prepared both at home and on the go.

Conclusion

No matter where you live — city, country, town or suburb –“power’s out!” are among the most discouraging words you can hear. But they don’t have to be. 

With a little preparedness, you don’t have to miss a beat when you suddenly find yourself without electricity.