Home > Blog > Home Safety Tips > How To Prepare For a Winter Blackout

How To Prepare For a Winter Blackout

Posted: December 30, 2017

Winter power outages can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared. When areas experience extremely low temperatures and dicey storm conditions, perilous conditions are often created that make thinking ahead a top priority. Power outages cost approximately $120 billion per year in the United States. To further compound the problem, many elderly, infirm, or especially young people are put at risk in these winter-time hazardous conditions. If you are someone who likes to stay one step ahead, take steps to prepare for a winter power outage.

Here is how to prepare for a power outage:

  • Provision an emergency kit:

    Ready.gov recommends that families prepare an emergency kit that is able to sustain you for a minimum of 72 hours. For tips on what you should include, check out Ready.gov’s disaster kit recommendations.
  • Stock your pantry with non-perishable food items and bottled water:

    In a power outage, you will be limited in your ability to store perishable food. No electricity means no refrigerator. Also, you will likely find yourself without access to running water. In this case, bottled water can be used for drinking and cooking purposes.
  • Have an alternative light source on hand

    Have an alternative light source on hand:

    Power outages can sometimes last for days or even weeks. If this should happen, you will want to have alternative lighting sources for the longer nights. The ideal solution is a power failure nightlight or another safe alternative lighting source, such as a battery-powered flashlight.
  • Be prepared for no heat:

    Do you know what to do when the power is out? Heat, food, and water are top priorities. Most homes get the majority of their heat supply from an electrical source. If you have no power, you also lose heat. Survey your home and determine the best way to heat your home with no power supply. For example, if you have a wood-burning stove, make sure you have access to an extra supply of wood. You could also purchase a backup generator, and stock it with fuel. Due to fire and carbon monoxide hazards, it isn’t recommended that you burn a fire indoors.
  • Know how you will communicate:

    It’s a good idea to outline a family communications plan prior to a power outage. In addition, you will want to prepare your communication devices. This could include a solar-powered charger for your phone or a battery-powered radio to receive relevant updates.
  • Make arrangements for any medical conditions:

    Often, medical conditions require special care. Does a family member require medical equipment that is powered by electricity? Is anyone in your home on medication that has specific storage requirements, such as refrigeration? Think ahead and make provisions for anyone in your home with a medical condition. Store extra medication or arrange for a backup power supply for any necessary medical equipment.
  • Avoid driving in hazardous conditions

    Avoid driving in hazardous conditions:

    In the winter, snowy and icy roads are particularly hazardous. If you are experiencing a power outage, stay indoors if possible to conserve heat and avoid the possibility of a vehicular accident.
  • Take measures to insulate your home:

    If you find yourself faced with a power outage, you need to conserve heat. Place towels around window openings and under doors to minimize lost heat. If possible, apply additional insulation or weather-proofing materials around these areas prior to extreme temperatures.
  • Prepare for frozen or burst pipes:

    If you’re planning to prepare for a power outage, you will want to account for the possibility of frozen or burst pipes. If this should happen, the best course of action is to shut off all water leading into the pipes to prevent disastrous conditions within your home. If temperatures are extreme, try insulating pipes with old towels or newspapers to prevent a burst from occurring in the first place. 
  • Don’t forget your pets:

    If you have family pets, you want to make sure you have extra supplies on hand for your four-legged inhabitants. Store extra pet food and water. Shovel out an area for pets to go outside, but limit time outside in extreme temperatures.

Check your home security system: Most home security systems come equipped with backup batteries which kick in if power is lost. Assess your system and make sure your system is still functioning.

A little prep work goes a long way. Stay ahead of the game and prep your home with our winter power outage tips before the blackout.