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5 Tips to Prepare for Long Winter Power Outages

Sheetal Mandora Nov 22, 2018
As winters can be unpredictable, you don't want to be caught unprepared and left in the dark due to unexpected blackouts. Read on to understand 5 tips to prepare for long winter power outages and avoid high utility bills.

For people with disabilities.

If someone in your family is on life-support system, battery-operated wheelchair, or any other power-dependent equipment, be sure to notify your power company about this. As blackouts are unplanned, finding a backup is crucial.
For many cities and small towns, winter blackouts are common. Imagining life without electricity is next to impossible. We prepare ourselves for natural disasters, but it is also important to know what steps need to be taken in case we encounter weather-related power outages. So, we have provided information on 5 essential factors you should concentrate on.

Staying warm without electricity.

It goes without saying that you should wear loose, yet warm clothes and a hat. And extra blankets wouldn't hurt either. However, that's not all.
Without electricity and (possible) severe weather conditions, you may need to find a way to heat your home. One good way to lessen the burden is by staying in one room. This way, you won't have to heat the entire house. If winter power outages are common in your area, you should invest in a portable generator.
However, never use it indoors. Always keep the generator outdoors, with the exhaust fan facing away from the vents and windows of the house. This will keep the harmful carbon monoxide from coming indoors.
Most importantly, refrain from using propane-based or any other combustion-type heaters indoors. This way, you will eliminate the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your house is properly insulated, and don't open the doors and windows unnecessarily. 
During daytime, if the sun comes out, spend some time outdoors. It's definitely better than being cooped up inside the house all day. If there are chances of a winter storm, install storm windows or cover them with plastic from the inside. Wear socks all day, and place mats and rugs on the floor (if there are no carpets).

Storing enough water to last the blackout.

Most modern homes have electric water pumps. A blackout will prove to be a nuisance when you don't have enough water for cooking, drinking, bathing, flushing the toilet, and washing clothes.
In such situation, there are a few things you can do to have ample amount of water for everyone in the house. First, shut off the water valves.

For cooking and drinking, save water in either sealed bottles or fill sterilized jugs. Have enough water that'll last each individual for 3 days. But be sure to store them in a place where the water won't freeze.
Don't wash clothes with water stored for drinking and cooking. You can always do laundry once the power is back on. Instead of bathing, choose to wipe yourself with a damp cloth 2 to 3 times a day.

Keeping everyone nourished and properly fed.

Throw away all perishable foods that require a temperature of more than 40°F. During a blackout, it will begin to decay after a few hours. There are two ways to go about cooking meals and feeding your family. If there are no storms and the weather outside is good, use an outdoor camp stove or gas/charcoal grill for cooking.
On the other hand, if for any reason you can't go outside, stick to having canned food such as stews, soups, beans, and spaghetti. Or, you can stock up on bread, dried meats, cheese, cereal, crackers, granola and energy bars, dried fruits, and nuts.

Keeping your surroundings sanitized and hygienic.

No power means no electricity, and no electricity (probably) means no steady supply of water. And for an extended period of time, this leads to issues with keeping your house clean.
For the sake of convenience, install a Porta Potty. Or, if the outside weather conditions are bad, you can fill the bathtub with water and use it to flush the toilet. Have enough supplies like tissue paper, wet wipes, air freshener, toilet paper, and garbage bags. Also, place covered trash cans outdoors, and discard trash in it.

Preparing a winter survival kit.

Whether there's a winter storm, hurricane, or blackout warning, having a survival kit for everyone in the household is a must.
Include items like non-perishable food, water, battery-powered radio, LED flashlights and lanterns, matches, candles, extra batteries, first aid kit, and other items that you may require. Fill two plastic storage containers, keeping one inside your house and the other in your car (that has a full tank of gas, and then some).

Inexpensive and safe alternative light sources.

During a blackout, a temporary power supply is highly recommended at night. Stock up on candles, Tiki torches, solar rechargeable patio lights and batteries, glow sticks, and/or hurricane lamps.
Remember, even the slightest bit of planning can go a long way. Once the power goes out, turn off all the lights, computers, and appliances around the house.
You may not always have ample amount of time to prepare, so a good precautionary method could be to run through some safety guidelines with your family. Don't wait to gather your supplies after the power goes out. Getting all the essential items and following safety measures will help you stay calm.