Winter is upon us. There’s the chance that a blizzard, high winds or ice will knock out your home’s electricity. Do you know what to do before and after you lose your electricity?
I’ve compiled a list of preparations that you can make in advance, in addition to what to do during a power outage.
If you hear that a major storm is on the way, try to do as many loads of laundry as you can prior to the storm arriving. That way you have clean clothes for the next several days in case you lose electricity.
Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times in the winter.
Make sure that the batteries in your flashlights are working and buy several sets of new batteries. It’s better to have them and not use them than to be without any light at night. Do not use candles as they could cause a fire.
Purchase a battery powered radio so that you can stay updated.
Since many people don’t have landlines and depend on their cellphones, buy a car cell phone charger so that you can use your car as a supplemental power source to charge your phone.
If you own a portable generator, make sure that you have enough gasoline to keep it running for two or three days. Store the gasoline in metal gas cans, in a garage or shed, away from any type of flammable items, such as newspaper or cleaning solvents or rags.
Stock up on non-perishable foods such as bottled water, peanut butter, whole grain bread, canned tuna, shrimp or chicken, cereal, fruit, vegetables, soup, fruit juice, nuts, cookies, etc. Don’t forget your pets – make that sure that you have enough food for them to eat during a power outage.
If you have an unfinished, non-heated basement, attic or garage, wrap all exposed pipes with foam insulation. This will help to keep the pipes from freezing if you lose power for a few days. Additionally, to prevent pipes from freezing during a power outage, allow a small stream of water to run from the faucets.
If you lose your electricity, first check to make sure that you have not blown a circuit. Check the circuit breakers in your electrical panel to see if any have tripped to the off position. If they have, flip them to the on position to see if that turns the power back on. If you’re still without electricity, call your electric company to report the outage.
Unless there is an emergency, do not call 911. That number should only be used if someone is injured or in danger.
Avoid opening and closing your refrigerator as much as possible. The food inside should stay cold for several hours if the door is left closed. If you have to open the door, take out the perishable foods and eat them first.
Unplug all appliances and electronic equipment, as there is an added risk of power surges occurring when the power returns that can destroy your appliances and fry your electronics. Leave one light on in your home so you know when the power has returned.
To keep warm, wear several layers of clothing, such as thermal underwear, sweaters, sweatshirts and jackets. Wear gloves and a knit cap as we lose heat through our heads and hands. If your pet has outdoor clothing, put it on them, or wrap them in a small fleece blanket or thick bath towel that’s secured with duct tape.
If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. Do not use kerosene heaters, gas powered or portable BBQ’s as these create carbon monoxide gas, which is deadly.
Check to make sure that your elderly neighbors are all right. If you have a source of heat, and they don’t, insist that they stay with you until the power returns.
Above all, stay calm. A power outage is only temporary.
For any electrical questions or issues that you have, call WattsControl, Inc. at 508-309-6631.