Nature has a way of throwing us curves at the most inconvenient times. Summertime power outages are a nuisance, but at least you can hang out on the patio and grill up something to eat on the Weber. In the winter, power outages can be deadly.
While most electrical outages are resolved in a relatively short time, snow and ice storms can bring down power lines for days at a time, threatening both property and life. Preparing ahead of time to have the supplies you need and the ability to keep warm safely can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and disaster.
Here are some ways to make sure you and your family are prepared for winter emergencies:
Make a Plan B
When storm warnings are sounded, people rush to stores to stock up on essentials. Most of what you’ll need are things you should have around anyway, so don’t risk your safety being caught empty-handed when bad weather strikes. If you take prescription medications, be sure to have enough on hand to get through the crisis.
Keep several flashlights handy. Have a battery-powered radio or TV available. Be sure to have extra batteries on hand. Check your battery-powered devices regularly to be sure they work. Remember, your home data network runs on electricity, so unless it has a battery backup, you’ll be off the desktop when the power is out. Cell phone service may be available, but you may need to have a way to charge your device. Solar-powered chargers can come in handy, and solar-powered outdoor lights can be brought indoors for extra lighting.
Got Dinner Plans?
Peanut butter, whole-grain crackers, energy bars, beef jerky, dried and canned fruit offer nutrition when cooking isn’t an option. Invest in an old-school manual can opener. Stock up on food for your pets too. Do not under any circumstance use your gas range to heat your house. Besides being a serious fire hazard, your ventilation fans won’t be working and deadly carbon monoxide gas can build up. Gas and charcoal grills can kill when lit inside.
Conserve, Repeat, Conserve
Shut that refrigerator! Fill a storage bag with ice cubes and put it in the refrigerator. A bag or two can keep your refrigerator cool all day long. Don’t take chances. Discard food that’s spoiled. Cook thawed food immediately if possible.
While a power outage won’t normally affect your water supply, if you’re on a well, you may be without water until power is restored. Widespread outages could also affect municipal water supplies, too. Keeping plenty of bottled water on hand is a good idea. Filling a bathtub will store water for uses other than drinking. Conserve water wherever possible. Keep pipes from freezing by letting faucets drip slightly and know where your main shutoff is in case pipes freeze and burst.
If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand for emergencies. Some propane heaters can be used briefly indoors, but never use combustible fuels indoors without proper ventilation as they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and make sure they’re in good working order.
Protect Your Appliances and Use Generators Wisely
When power is restored there can be a momentary surge of current, so turn off your lights and appliances to prevent overload damage when the power comes back on. Leave one lamp on or a radio plugged in to let you know when power is restored.
If you have a standby generator, don’t try to connect it to your home wiring unless it has a transfer safety switch or your main power is cut off at the breaker box before you operate it. This prevents electricity from traveling back through the power lines, creating a danger for anyone near the lines, particularly crews working to restore power. Be sure to let your electric utility know that you have a generator.
Be a Good Neighbor
Check on your neighbors and friends to be sure they’re okay and offer to help in any way you can. If you have internet or cell phone access, use it get word out of anyone in distress. If evacuation is the best choice, offer to help neighbors who may not be able to leave on their own.
We have become exceptionally reliant on electricity to help us in our daily lives, and knowing how to live without it is too easily overlooked. The pros at Allstar Electrical Services hope you’ll never have to experience an extended power outage, but if misfortune strikes, these hints will help you get through it. Several organizations offer detailed information on disaster planning, and we encourage you to take advantage of it and have a disaster plan in place for your home and your business.
Allstar Electrical works with homeowners and businesses to help ensure that they have safe, reliable power when and where they need it. We’ve been serving the Front Range for nearly 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List. For more information about our services, from backup power to modernizing your electrical service, visit our website, allstarelectrical.com, or give us a call at (303) 399-7420.