Almost everything we do at home requires electricity, from cooking dinner to keeping ourselves and our families entertained.
Because electricity is a part of our everyday life, it’s easy to forget how much we depend on it – until there’s an outage. Before a winter storm takes out your electricity, do what you can now to prepare. Do you live in an area with mild winters? Most of these tips are relevant for any type of power outage, so check them out regardless of your local weather!
General Power Outage Tips
- Emergency pack: Keep everything you need in one place, so it is easy to find in the dark, and everyone in the family knows where it is. Consider items like phone charging packs, headlamps, battery-powered lanterns, flashlights, first-aid supplies, water jugs for drinking and cooking, dried food, and extra clothing layers. Depending on your household, there are additional items you may need, which is why it is a good idea to plan and be prepared.
- Make a plan: Your winter storm safety plan will help your family know what to do during a storm or power outage. Hopefully, you’ll be together during an outage, but it’s good to prepare for if you were to get separated and make sure everyone is confident in the plan. Play out scenarios and let everyone ask questions; this will help with any anxiety they might be feeling. If your kids have never experienced a power outage, you might want to spend an evening or a weekend living like the power is out – this can also help you identify supplies that are missing from your stash!
Family Safety Tips
- Protect your kids: Outfitting your family in layered clothing is the easiest way to ensure everyone stays warm during a winter storm. Other ways to keep your family warm inside is to shut all the doors and cover windows to stop the heat from escaping. To make a power outage as fun as possible, make a blanket fort. Blankets work wonders when it comes to keeping your children warm in a cold house, so why not make it a fun night making a blanket fort to battle the cold together?
- Protect your pets: Bring furry friends inside and be ready to move livestock and other animals to sheltered areas. Check out this article by the Humane Society for more tips on winter pet care.
- Prepare an emergency food supply: A massive storm can disrupt the food supply, along with your ability to get to the store, so plan to keep at least a 3-day supply of food on hand. Consider foods with a long storage life, requiring little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration if utilities are disrupted. For a list of suggested emergency food supplies, visit https://www.ready.gov/food.
- Keeping a working thermometer: Make sure you have appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. These thermometers will indicate your appliances’ temperatures to help determine if the food is safe to eat. Ideal temperatures for the freezer is 0* F or below, and 35-38* F for the refrigerator.
- Keeping the appliance doors closed: Doing this as much as possible will maintain the cold temperature for an extended period. Once the power comes back on, it’s essential to check the temperature right away to see if the food is safe to keep.
- Buy ice: Although it might be tempting to store food outside during a snowstorm (it’s cold out there, right?), this isn’t a safe practice. The temperatures outside can vary, and food can be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals. If you suspect that you’ll lose power during a coming storm, buy ice to store in the refrigerator to keep food as cold as possible. You can also freeze a few jugs of water to transfer to the fridge during a power outage. For more food safety tips, please visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/.