There are a number of reasons that could explain why the power went out, but typically it is weather related. While there is no reason to panic during a situation like this, it is important to be prepared. As the winter months continue to surprise different parts of the country (whether it is the lack of winter weather or the surprise of it!), it is crucial to know what to do when it’s cold outside and your power has not been restored.
Know Where Shut-Off Valves Are
Do you know where the emergency shut off valve is for the gas or the water in your household? Are you sure you know which circuit breakers match with which part of the house? In the case of a weather emergency, you must know how your home works, because you may be responsible when the power is out. Aside from the main shut offs, be sure to unplug sensitive electrical equipment like computers, televisions, etc., because when the power comes back on there could be a power spike which would result in damaged electronics.
Correctly Light Your Home
We all know candles smell wonderful and have a calming effect on people. But do not use those in an emergency or a power outage! Having flashlights and working batteries will be your best bet. There are a ton of cheap flash lights you can invest in, and you will be thanking them later for not starting a house fire. During power outages, there are hundreds of house fires due to people lighting tens of candles throughout their home and not keeping an eye on them. Plus, flashlights are more mobile!
Layers, layers, layers! Have extra blankets, sleeping bags, and winter coats around. Do not feel silly walking around your house in your snow pants. Maintaining your body temperature is crucial for comfort and avoiding hypothermia. If you have on those extra layers, having a household temperature of 40-50° F is safe, but not the most comfortable. Do not try to use your stove for extra heat, as this is not a safe method. But, if your budget allows, try to invest in a generator to keep your home warm and even the lights on. KEEP YOUR GENERATOR OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GARAGE AND AT A SAFE DISTANCE OF 20 FEET AWAY!
Food. Food. FOOD.
We all know Mom likes to buy a lot of random canned foods “in case of an emergency”. Before you roll your eyes, Mom is correct. Having canned foods and bottles of water will be your saving grace if you are snowed in or stuck inside due to other winter weather emergencies. Be sure to rotate out the old canned goods because although they do last much longer than farm fresh, they still go bad sitting on your shelf for a few years. The food in your refrigerator will stay cold for up to 4 hours if unopened and in your freezer for up to 24 hours. If you have extra room in your freezer, throw some gallon water jugs in there to maintain the frozen temperature if the power were to go out.
Some Other Options
Have a battery operated radio around and try to listen to it at the top of every hour to get updates on when the power can be expected to come back on. Also, keep your vehicle’s fuel tank at least half full, as many gas stations will be closed during a power outage. Know how to manually open your garage door, because the automatic door opener will not work if the power is out! In your car, keep a car charger for your cell phone. Finally, have books, board games, cards, or other entertainment around to keep yourself amused during an outage. The last thing we want is to die of boredom in a power outage!
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Written By: Madison Jezioro