Preparing for Winter Storm Power Outages – What You Need to Know
Power outage statistics are getting worse as weather extremes and an aging, overburdened utility grid more frequently leave customers in the cold and dark. The numbers tell the story: weather-related power outages are practically doubling every 5 years in this country. Aside from hurricanes, winter storms were the most frequent source of widespread grid disturbances affecting more than a million people. Today, a house deprived of electrical power can become almost uninhabitable if the residents aren’t prepared for a power outage. Here’s what you can do ahead of time.
- Keep three days of canned food on hand as well as cooking fuel such as a butane camp stove or canned heat. Many natural gas home appliances don’t work without electricity. A severe power outage may also affect local water supply. Keep at least three day’s supply of drinking water (one gallon per resident per day) on hand.
- Have fresh batteries stored for flashlights. Ideally, you should use LED lights as these are brighter plus draw less power so batteries last longer. Also invest in a cellphone backup battery source and keep it charged to recharge your cellphone as necessary.
- Even if natural gas supply is uninterrupted, most modern gas furnaces won’t ignite without electrical power. Therefore, make provisions to stay warm. Keep a supply of seasoned firewood on hand if you have a fireplace. Make sure there are enough warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags for everyone in the house.
- If you utilize a portable gasoline-powered generator, do so with caution. Due to the danger of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust, a generator should never be operated inside the house or even in an attached garage. Keep the generator outside and at least 20 feet away from the house. Due to electrocution hazard, be careful when stringing extension cords out to the generator in wet or icy conditions.
- For optimum protection against winter power outage, consider investing in a whole-house backup generator permanently wired into your circuits.