Winter weather is in full-swing, and a number of states have already been hit hard by the power outages that characterize the season. Thousands of residents across Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey lost power in November following Winter Storm Cato, and several projected storms are slated to cause similar outages in the upcoming weeks.
With severe winter weather picking up, it’s important to be prepared in the event that a power outage does occur. In order to ensure safe survival through a power outage, it’s vital to be prepared in the weeks leading up to a storm, and to take necessary precautions during the outage.
Preparing for a Power Outage
You never know when a power outage may unexpectedly occur. During the winter, power outages are often caused by strong winds, ice storms, and heavy snow. While it’s vital to prepare for a power outage when you know a storm is approaching, it’s also important to prep at the beginning of the season, to ensure that you’re prepared in case an outage occurs without warning.
Stocking up on certain items well in advance of a severe storm will keep you prepared in the event of a power outage. Essential items include:
-Non-perishable or canned foods (canned meats and fish, canned soups, beans, crackers, canned vegetables, peanut butter, nuts and trail mixes, dried fruit, granola bars)
Ensure Cell Phone Power
Landlines are becoming increasingly rare in homes, and they won’t work without electricity. It’s important to have a way to ensure that your cell phone is charged at all times during a power outage, as it will be your only means of immediate communication. Buy a charger fit for the USB port or cigarette lighter in your car.
Be Prepared to Evacuate
It’s critical that you be able to leave your house in the event of an evacuation. Keep your gas tank full, or buy extra gasoline to keep in your garage, to ensure that you’re able to leave if necessary. If you don’t own a car, prepare an evacuation plan with friends or neighbors in advance.
Have a Heat Alternative
You’ll need a heat alternative to warm your food. Buy a camping stove or propane grill to heat up perishable food. Be sure to only use these alternatives outside, to minimize carbon monoxide exposure.
What to Do During a Power Outage
Follow these rules to ensure safe survival during a short-term or long-term power outage.
Eat Perishable Items First
Eat perishable food items first to ensure that non-perishable items are preserved in the event of a long-term outage, and in order to consume the food before it spoils.
Keep Fridge Opening and Closing to a Minimum
To preserve perishable items as long as possible, open the fridge as little as possible, as the exposure to hot air will rise the inside temperature. Typically, a refrigerator can keep food cold for approximately 4 hours. A full freezer can hold its temperature for about 48 hours. Food that has risen to a temperature above 40 °F for over two hours should not be consumed.
Unplug Electrical Equipment
Unplug all electrical equipment, including computers, printers, appliances, and televisions, as soon as the power goes out. When the power comes back on, power surges could damage equipment which remains plugged in.
Power outages often occur unexpectedly during winter, and are dangerous to the unprepared. To ensure that you and your family safely make it through an unexpected power outage, stock up on essentials well in advance, and follow the above guidelines during the outage.