In a world as digitally connected as ours is, the concept of losing electricity for days on end can sound downright terrifying. When we’re always checking our phones for emails, texts, and other notifications, we begin to take the electricity we can’t live without for granted.
Losing power can be especially stressful if it happens during a winter storm when heat is a very necessary element of survival. Having the right equipment and supplies on hand during a winter storm emergency can make all the difference
What You Need to Survive a Winter Power Outage
Make sure to have enough drinking water for each member of your family. The supply should be able to last you through two weeks. Storing packages of bottled water is perfect. As long as the seal is in tact, water can last for years.
It’s a good rule of thumb to have enough non-perishable food for each family member to make it through a minimum of two weeks. If your power goes out, start eating the food in your refrigerator first, then begin eating whatever is in your freezer. A well insulated freezer helps food last for about two days. Make sure to keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible to preserve their chill.
Consider having a supply of alternative heat sources on hand for these wintery emergencies. Kerosine heaters and wood burning stoves are helpful when power is out and your home’s temperature begins to drop.
Make sure to have any gas fireplaces in your home serviced so they’re in working order if needed. Familiarize yourself with its battery backup ignition system, since the electric ignitor will be useless to you in times of power outages.
Your home should be stocked with enough flashlights for everyone in your family and be sure to have extra compatible batteries on hand in case they lose their charge. Battery powered lamps are also helpful for lighting. Any open flames with candlelight should be handled with caution, especially if there are curious children in your house.
Backup Power and Portable Battery Banks
A small generator that runs your basic appliances and lights can be a God-send when experiencing a winter power outage, especially if the outage may last more than a day or so. Some generators will power your entire house. Be sure to examine your needs when researching generator options such as fuel usage and output, safety measures, and restrictions within your neighborhood HOA.
If using a generator, be sure to run the machine safely and never leave it running in your home with doors and windows shut. Any gas-powered machine will omit carbon monoxide, which is odorless, tasteless, and deadly. Make sure the carbon monoxide detectors in your home are battery powered and in working order at all times.
Portable battery banks are helpful in charging your devices and important electronics during power outages. With our dependency on cell phone technology, it’s imperative to have phones charged properly in cases of medical or safety emergencies. Likewise, have an extra supply of back-up batteries for radios and other electronics, just in case they’re needed.
Medical Devices and Medication
Anyone with medical devices powered by electricity should talk to their medical provider on how to supply power through a battery backup system. Discuss with your doctor how long certain medications can be stored at higher temperatures and be sure to get specific guidance for any medication or device that is critical for life.
Store an extra full gas tank full for emergencies and power outages. It’s also a good rule of thumb to keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times. Many gas stations depend on electricity to power their pumps. If yours is out, chances are that the closest gas station doesn’t have electricity either. You may make more trips to the gas station, but if you need to travel during an emergency, at least you’ll have the gas you need to get there.
It would also be wise to invest in extra propane tanks. Storing these at your home can be used for fueling a grill, portable stove, or propane heater.
Portable Camping Stove or Grill
A camping stove or grill makes a home-cooked meal easy work while roughing it out in the wilderness, but it can also be the very tool that keeps you fed during a winter power outage. Having a method for cooking and heating water will be indispensable.
While a cash transaction seems like something from “the 1900s,” it’s a good idea to have at least one month of expenses saved in cash and hidden at home. This may be helpful in the case of a larger scale emergency or simply a dire financial hardship.
Major power outages can seem scary and never-ending to those experiencing one, and it’s especially difficult if you’re drastically unprepared. While you can never fully prepare yourself for every emergency possible, it’s a good idea to have some crucial tools and systems in place if and when the predicament presents itself. Be certain to sign up for local alters and warning systems. Be wary of winter weather and heed the predictions set forth by the weather service. Doing so could be the difference between weathering a storm comfortably or struggling in the dark and cold.