Wind. Snow. Ice. Freezing Rain. What do these things have in common? These four are the usual suspects behind most of the dangerous power outages that inevitably occur each winter. And dangerous is right. Knowing what to do for safety and survival in sub-zero temperatures is critical. That’s why we’ve put together this two-part Winter Power Outage Survival Guide. Be sure to watch for part two in our next post!
PART 1: THE BASICS
1) Determine the Source
Is the outage confined to your home, or do neighbors seem to be without power as well? If you’re not sure, check your home’s electrical panel for any blown circuits.
2) Call the Power Utility
If the power outage is neighborhood wide, call the utility company to report the outage. They will generally give you a better idea of how far the the outage extends, which will directly impact your waiting period for power restoration.
3) Soak up the Sun
When the heat is out in freezing temperatures, the warm midday sun is your best friend. Be sure to open drapes in sunny windows to help take the chill off, and remember to close them as soon as the sun leaves to help keep that warmth locked inside.
4) Huddle Up
Choose the smallest, best insulated room with the fewest windows to take refuge in. Cover windows with blankets and cardboard to insulate against cold (when the sun isn’t shining). Having the whole family huddle together in the same space adds warmth from body heat.
5) Add Layers, Gloves, Hats & Scarves
One of the big advantages of being stranded in your own home is that you’ve got plenty of clothing and accessories at your disposal for bundling up. This is definitely a case where more is more. Whatever you do, don’t resist putting on a hat. You’ll be able to retain as much as 80% of your total body heat by simply wearing a hat.
6) Eat Something
Another advantage of being stranded at home? FOOD! And hopefully, plenty of it. Digesting food causes the body to burn calories, generating warmth. Remember to always keep plenty of non-spoiling foods on hand in case of just such an emergency. It’d be miserable to be stuck with an empty pantry and no back-up munitions.
7) Frozen & Refrigerated Foods
And speaking of food… How long are you expecting the outage to last? Without power, a refrigerator is like a big cooler that will keep food safely chilled for about 4 hours. A full freezer fares much better, at 2 days of temperature maintenance, or 24 hours for a freezer that is half full. Keep the doors closed to protect foods inside from warmer room temperatures and faster thawing. Also, remember that certain foods can be dangerous to consume when they are not refrigerated.
Next Week –
PART 2: AVOIDING DANGER & DAMAGE
In our next edition, we’ll discuss various appliances and devices throughout the home. We’ll cover those that could pose serious dangers to your health, as well as the steps you can take to prevent others from winter storm damage. See you then!