Winter power outages can happen for a number of reasons: rolling blackouts, winter storms, trees coming down because of high winds or ice. Whatever the reason, it is smart to be ready and know what to do in case it happens to you.
Knowing what to do before, during or after an outage can make a huge difference. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a winter power outage:
Before an Outage
- Check flashlights and portable radios to ensure that they are working, and you have extra batteries. A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep cold air out.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
- To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
- Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
- Know how to shut off water valves.
- Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (remember to reset them back to normal once power is restored). During an outage, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours.
During an Outage
- Dress for the season, wearing several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
- Snow can be melted for an additional water source.
- In order to protect against possible voltage irregularities that can occur when power is restored, you should unplug all sensitive electronic equipment, including TVs.
After an Outage
- Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by snowdrifts, trees or debris, and could be live.
- Check with/help neighbors.
- Continue to stay off streets.
- Do not touch anything power lines are touching, such as tree branches or fences. Always assume a downed line is a live line. Call your utility company to report any outage-related problem.
Being prepared for a winter power outage can be the difference between being warm or possibly contracting hypothermia. Take care of yourself this winter season and keep informed about weather emergencies with an Etón weather radio.
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