Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Power's Out? Here's What to Do

While I am basking in 65 degree weather in Las Vegas, much of the nation is being pummeled with snow and ice, especially the New England states.  Here's what to do if you are without power in the middle of a snow storm:

  • Prepare way ahead of time.  Stockpile food, water, batteries, books, board games, etc.  Figure out what your alternate cooking, lighting, and heating plans are if you have no electricity.  If you have regular power outages consider a generator and have extra fuel on hand.  Figure out what to do ahead of time if you have a well with an electric pump and how to open your garage door when there is no power.
  • When the power first goes out give it a bit of time to see if it will come back online.  If it doesn't come back on, call the outage in to your local power company.
  • If you can stay inside, do so.  Snow, ice, and wind can bring down trees and power lines which can be deadly if they fall on you.  You also don't want to be driving or walking outside during a storm if at all possible.
  • Use flashlights if you need light.  Candles are OK but are more likely to cause a fire.  At night, if you have those solar yard lights, bring them in to light your house.
  • Make a "warm room".  It is easier to keep one room warm than the entire house.  Follow the directions on your alternate heating device (propane stove, etc) and if it says use in a ventilated area, don't use it in a sealed room.
  • Even better than a warm room is a freestanding tent/sleeping pad/sleeping bag set up which is even easier to keep warm in.
  • Never use combustion devices (BBQ grill, etc) indoors; carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and it can quickly kill you.
  • If you are using a generator to power your appliances, make sure the generator is located outside and away from the house/windows so carbon monoxide doesn't seep into your home.
  • Bundle up.  Wear extra layers of clothes, socks, gloves, a hat, etc.
  • Layer up.  Cover up with extra blankets to retain body heat.
  • If it will be a prolonged power outage, consider going somewhere that has power (a friend's house, a warming shelter, a hotel).
  • Disconnect any electronics/appliances which are plugged into outlets (so the power surge when the power comes back on dosen't fry them).
  • If it becomes really really cold consider pocket hand warmers, a heated brick to keep your feet warm, and/or cuddling up with a hot water bottle.
  • If you have a wood stove, bring wood to the back door to reduce trips outside.  Wood stoves are wonderful for power outages as you can usually heat a large room as well as heat water and food on them.
  • Keep windows covered with heavy drapes to prevent air leaks into your home.
  • Make the power outage a fun camping experience for the family instead of a crisis.  Break out the marshmallows and make S'mores in the fireplace.  Play board games, read books, or tell stories to keep everyone entertained.
  • Eat well (you burn more calories when cold), eat hot food if possible (soup warms you from the inside), and drink warm beverages if possible.
  • Be aware of cold-related injuries such as hypothermia and frostbite and seek immediate medical assistance for these or other medical emergencies.
  • Listen to local (battery powered or hand-crank) radio for emergency messages specific to your area.
  • You can charge tablets, computers, and cell phones in your vehicle but be sure that if you need to run your car to charge these items, you do so outside of the garage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Have a triple redundant back up plan if people in your home have critical electricity needs (like someone on a ventilator or someone who relies on other electricity-powered health devices).
  • Bring pets inside so they can stay safe and warm.  If you have livestock, prepare ahead of time to take care of them.
  • Take care of your home before and during a storm: let water drip in faucets so pipes don't freeze, remove snow if it gets too deep on your roof, keep gutters clear, etc.

1 comment:

  1. This is excellent advice. While I don't like power outages at all, being prepared makes them so much more endurable.