Dipping Temperatures Change How You Handle Blackouts
As the cold sets in this January, you’ll want to make sure you and yours are secure in the event of a winter-time blackout. Regardless of the cause or your location, winter temperatures can get low enough outside to be a real safety hazard, not only to you, but to your house or business.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as we go through the winter months.
Keep Your Tank Half Full
Should there be an unexpected power outage and you must leave the house, you want to make sure you can get there. Gas stations will also have no power and there will be no way to pump gas into your car if you are on empty. Making sure you have at least a half a tank of gas ensures you get where you're going or at least to a place that has power so you can fill up that tank.
When a winter storm warning is issued for your area, we recommend you go ahead and fill up your tank.
If you have a fireplace or woodstove, it’s always good to keep an emergency stock of wood on hand to help keep a house well above freezing, and relatively comfortable (compared to the outdoors). A fireplace or woodstove can also be used for cooking, so you may consider getting equipment to help aid with that.
If you don’t have a fireplace or woodstove, do not to use gas stoves, charcoal grills, or other non-vented open-flame heat sources to heat your home -- these items can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to build up in your home.
Dressing warmly while awake using multiple layers and using extra blankets to sleep will help keep the cold at bay until the power comes back on.
Keep Plenty of Alternate Lighting Sources
This usually means flashlights with extra batteries, candles with matches, and even oil or propane lanterns. Make sure to keep all open flame light sources well out of the reach of small children when in use.
An alternate way to create inexpensive, but safe, lighting if you have children around (or people who sometimes act like kids) is to buy glow sticks. These can be set around the house without fear of causing a fire and can be safely given to children for when they need to move around on their own.
While it shouldn’t be used in the house, a gas or charcoal grill can still be used outdoors to cook food. Having a stock of non-perishable foods on hand (canned or dry foods) along with at least three days of water for each person will go a long way to keeping your stomachs satisfied as well as help your body better regulate heat. And make sure to keep a manual can opener on hand.
One way to keep plenty of water on hand is to fill up the empty spaces in your freezer with containers of water. It will displace the air to help keep frozen foods cold longer in the event of a power outage, and as you need water, you can take it out to thaw for use. Milk or juice containers work well for this purpose.
Don’t open the freezer or refrigerator any more often than you must. Chest freezers will hold their temperatures better if they must be opened, and we recommend moving any perishable items from the refrigerator to the freezer to help them from spoiling.
Remember: freezers will keep things frozen for up to 24 hours, possibly longer if they are in a cold garage. Refrigerators will only keep things cold for about 4 hours.
Stay Informed and Entertained
Make sure to keep a battery, solar, or hand crank radio on hand to help you keep in touch with the rest of the world. Keep extra batteries on hand and always test it out once a year to make sure it’s in working order.
Don’t use your phone (cell or otherwise) unless it’s an emergency. Keep the lines free for emergency personnel. If you must communicate, use text on your phone. But remember, unless you have a spare battery, solar charger, or other method of keeping your cell phone charged, use it sparingly until the power comes back on.
We also recommend having books, board games, card games and other items on hand to help pass the time as you wait for the power to come back on. It could only be a few hours, or it could be several days. Some special treats such as chocolate or wine could also help make it more enjoyable.
Keep Your Electronics Safe
Unplug all of your computers, TVs, and other sensitive equipment from outlets. When the power comes back on, there can be power spikes that can damage these types of equipment. Protecting your equipment means that it will be available to use after the power comes back on.
Keep Your Pipes Safe
Even though it may be freezing outside, it’s likely that your house will stay warmer inside. To help prevent your pipes from freezing, you can open any cabinets to let the house air circulate nearer the pipes to help keep them warmer. Also, turn on the cold tap just a bit to get a slow drip. It takes much lower temperatures to freeze running water, and doing so can help prevent pipes from bursting and the expensive repairs that go along with it.
Keep Up With Your Neighbors
If you live near people with extremely young children, those who are elderly, or who have health issues, you may want to check in on them periodically or even invite them to stay with you, if you have the extra space. These individuals have special needs that could require emergency services.
With a little preparation you can make a winter time power outage a lot more comfortable, and even more entertaining for your family.
But should anything happen to your home, auto, or business, or you just want to make sure you are covered in the case of something unexpected, give us a call. We'd love to chat.
Stay warm this season!