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How To Handle Power Outages During the Winter


Power outages never come at a convenient time, but during the winter that can be especially difficult to deal with. A power outage during a winter storm can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared.

Being left without warmth or running water for a long period can be very dangerous. Prepare before the emergency occurs to save yourself and your family some serious trouble.

Knowing how to handle the situation before, during, and after will make it much easier to deal with.

How To Prepare

    • Have flashlights with batteries prepared.
    • Be sure to have portable radios with batteries.
    • Prepare a plan for heating to make at least one room livable. Whether it’s a fireplace and matches or a portable heater powered by batteries, or another solution.
    • Have your home properly insulated to keep the cold out. It may be a good idea to install storm windows.
    • Have food and water supply. You will not be able to use the pipes during a winter power outage without risking water freezing and pipes bursting.
    • Be sure to have a first aid kit handy.
    • If anyone in your household relies on emergency medical equipment, be sure that equipment has any extra batteries or anything it may need to run during a power outage.
    • Keep a bag of ice in your freezer.
    • Have a backup battery for your phone. It may not be usable during a severe storm, but if it is, it will be extremely helpful.

What To Do During The Outage

    • To keep pipes from freezing, insulate them. You can wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers.
    • Shut off water vaults.
    • Do not let faucets drip, it will lead to water freezing in your pipes and possibly bursting.
    • Dress for the cold. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, layers. Your outer layer should be water resistant if possible. Mittens will keep you warmer than gloves. Wearing a hat and warm socks will also be very efficient, as most heat escaped from the head and feet.
    • Snow can be melted and purified for an additional water source.
    • Food can be kept in a refrigerator for about 24 hours without power as long as the door stays closed. If your fridge starts to thaw out, you can add ice or snow from outside to keep it cold. If you have a bag of ice in your freezer, that may also help you refrigerate food.
    • Use your radio to listen for updates, check with loved ones, and contact 911 if needed.

Dealing with the Aftermath

    • If the outage was due to a winter storm, check for any potential damages.
    • Be cautious of any downed lines.
    • Call your utility company to report any problems related to the outage.
    • Do what you can to prevent additional damage. Open doors carefully, there may be debris or unseen damage that could be worsened or potentially dangerous.


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