Winter storms often bring blinding, wind-driven snow lasting for several days, dangerously low temperatures and also strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain. Taking the following steps helps ensure safety during unexpected power outages caused by a winter storm:
- Insulating the home: storm windows or plastic windows covers (installed on the inside) help provide insulation.
- Heating fuel: because regular sources may be cut off, a sufficient supply of heating fuel should be stocked, as well as emergency heating equipment and fuel.
- Preventing CO poisoning: to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, generators should never be run inside a home or garage, but always in an open and well ventilated area. All necessary appliances must be plugged directly into the generator.
- Preventing frozen pipes: to keep pipes from freezing, they should be wrapped in insulation. A small stream of water should be allowed to run from faucets.
- Perishable foods: to maintain refrigerated and frozen foods during a power outage, appliance doors should only be opened as little as possible.
- Preparing for emergencies: an “emergency supply kit” (water, food, medications, flashlight and batteries, etc) should be readily available.
- Transportation: vehicles must be winterized and the gas tank should be full (to keep the fuel line from freezing).
- Communication: a car charger for your cell phone is a must have in case of extended blackouts.
- Protecting appliances: all appliances should be unplugged and only one light should be left switched on. There is an added risk of power surges occurring, that can destroy appliances.
- Preventing hazards around the home: tree branches should be trimmed before the storm season begins.
When driving in extreme winter conditions, be sure to carry a car emergency kit for wintertime, just in case a snow storm, an accident or mechanical malfunctioning leaves you stuck in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard.
In the words of Stephen King: “There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst”. Be prepared and stay safe!