Winter is coming, and from celebrating the holidays to curling up by the fire and enjoying some hot chocolate, winter is a cozy and comforting time of the year. However, the beautiful snowy season also comes with its own challenges.
Heavy storms can cause faults and failures in power lines, leaving you without warmth for hours or even days. Winter power outages are scary—your food will go bad without refrigeration, you can get stuck in your home for days, and you may not have a backup heating system to keep you warm in the freezing cold.
As you prepare for the holiday season, it is also imperative that you know what to do if your power goes out during a winter storm. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to make arrangements in advance and avoid being blindsided by a winter power outage in your area.
- Block Up Cracks and Crevices
While you might not notice it when your house is heated, small cracks and crevices around windows and doors can let in more cold air than you think.
Use towels or other thick material to block drafts and secure them with tape. Granted, this doesn’t look great, but it’s certainly worth doing if you want to stay warm!
- Wear Plenty of Layers
When the temperature in your house drops, you can keep yourself warm by wearing more clothes. Don’t just grab your jumper or coat, though—it’s all about insulating layers to keep you warm.
Layers can include an undershirt, short sleeve top, long sleeve top, sweater, and coat (or even a bathrobe if you want to be extra cozy).
Hats, gloves, socks, and slippers can also help ward off the cold if temperatures are particularly low. You should also stay indoors and avoid opening your house up and letting cold air get inside.
- Use Candles (Safely)
Many people use candles as decorative lights rather than heat sources, but they actually give off a lot of warmth. You can place several candles together on a table for a centralized heat source.
Keep in mind, though, that you should always be cautious when using candles, and you should never place them near flammable materials or somewhere they could easily fall over. Make sure that all candles are put out before you go to bed.
- Have Blinds Open in the Day and Shut at Night
Use the blinds and/or curtains you already have to your benefit. When the power is out, ensure that your windows are uncovered in the day to get as much warmth from daylight as possible. At night, close the blinds to help trap warm air inside and stop any drafts from getting in.
- Keep Yourself and Pets Warm with Blankets
As well as wearing layers of clothing, use extra blankets to keep your body temperature up in the evenings and at night. Don’t forget that any four-legged friends will also need to be kept warm during an outage, so offer them an extra blanket or two.
- Do Some Exercise
Everyone knows that exercise raises your body temperature quickly and efficiently. Just 5 minutes of running in place or doing jumping jacks will have you feeling warmer in no time. If you have children, play energetic games to keep everybody warm. However, make sure you don’t expose yourself to the cold if you work up a sweat, as this will only make you feel colder.
- Inspect Flashlights & Stock Up on Batteries
To prepare for blizzard-induced power outages, you should have lighting options on hand. You can use both candles and flashlights, but the latter is a safer option. Check to make sure that your flashlights are working; replace the batteries if needed and stock up on more when you can.
Also, keep spare batteries for your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detector, radio, and any other devices that may require them.
- Consume Warm Drinks
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and soup will help keep your body warm. With no power, you’ll have to use a camping stove or candle to heat your drinks. Try to have a hot drink every hour or two to feel the real benefits.
- Keep a Classic Radio
If your phone battery dies and you don’t have a power bank, an old-fashioned radio device can come in really handy. Purchase this simple device to listen to the news and stay connected with the latest updates.
- Lower the Temperature of Your Refrigerator
If a storm is predicted, start preparing ahead of time. Lower the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer in case a power outage hits and lasts for multiple days. This will help your food last longer. Transfer perishable items such as milk, butter, meat, and vegetables from the fridge to the freezer to retain cold for much longer.
- Fill Up Your Gas Tank
Gas stations run on electricity, so you should keep your tank filled during stormy weather. Keep an eye on the forecast and take care of this before a heavy storm causes a power outage.
- Buy a Generator
A generator can be a great investment if you’re worried about losing power during any future storms. There are two types of generators: standby and portable ones. A standby generator is hardwired into your home’s electrical system and powers up your entire home or some essential appliances. As these generators run on natural gas or propane, you would need to stock up on fuel just as with your car’s gas tank. While you can choose to power certain appliances or rooms in your home, you can also prepare your entire home for power blackouts with batteries, solar panels, and a smart home panel.
You can also avoid needing to store additional fuel for a wood or gas stove by running an electric heater with the generator instead. There’s no need to worry about ventilation, either, since the power is clean and doesn’t give off fumes.
Even with just a small portable power station, you can keep your phone charged, so you never need to worry about your cell phone battery dying. You won’t need to rely on the radio for information, and you can keep your television or laptop powered up and ready to go. Using a portable power station and an electric hot plate, you can cook basic dishes or boil some water to make a hot drink or meal. Keep the food in your fridge and freezer from going bad with a battery that will keep them running for several days.
What Should You Do After a Power Outage?
After the power is restored, you can breathe a sigh of relief, but you can’t sit back and relax just yet. There are still a few things that need to be taken care of, such as checking for pipes that might have been damaged in the freeze and restocking any food items that were eaten or that went bad.