Power outages are a common problem during the winter, and because of the persistent cold, even more dangerous during this season. Prolonged power outages not only have the potential to impact personal comfort and well being, but can take a toll on your home–especially plumbing systems and central heating systems.
Preparing for winter power outages is an important part of continued cold weather seasonal preparedness at home. Staying warm is clearly the ultimate concern during winter outages, but a number of other things are also worthy of consideration in your power outage preparation. The severity and duration of the outage are important determiners of your overall recovery time. Here are some useful tips to prepare for a winter power outage.
Plan Alternative Heating
Since the biggest concern during a winter power outage is staying warm, you should plan for alternative heating. These can include fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and portable generators. Each of these requires a certain degree of maintenance to ensure that they function safely and efficiently when you absolutely need them for heat.
Fireplaces need to be cleaned regularly, with an annual chimney cleaning to prevent excessive creosote buildup. Make sure flammable materials are cleared from nearby the fireplace and adhere to safe fireplace operation.
Generators should be inspected and serviced to ensure they are in proper working condition. Portable generators, in particular, have a supplemental fuel supply and can be less expensive than standby generators. Assess the pros and cons of both and determine which kind will better suit your needs.
Prepare Emergency Resources
In addition to alternative heating resources, you should also prepare essential emergency items to help you sustain yourself during a period without power. Emergency food and water, flashlights, first aid kits, blankets, lanterns, and other essentials that you would keep in any other type of emergency kit. The same type of preparation applies to putting together essentials for winter power outages and other adverse situations.
During the most severe blizzards, along with power outages, a big concern is the closure of businesses and transportation networks. Getting emergency supplies or even getting around can be problematic during a severe storm and outage, so making sure to have everything you need on hand can’t be overemphasized.
At the very least, store first aid supplies, plenty of food, bottled water, alternative heating and lighting sources, and some good snow removal equipment. The objective is to remain self-sustaining until roads are cleared, power is restored, and business and transportation resumes as normal.