What to do When the Power Goes Out in Winter

With February just around the corner, we are truly in the deepest, most bitterly cold time of year. While we already experienced one significant weather event at the end of December, they are more likely to occur now. These winter storms can occasionally lead to lead to life-threatening problems, like long-term power outages.

It is important you know what to do when the power goes out in winter for the sake of your loved ones’ safety, as well as your own. Follow these steps so you can be certain you are prepared for this worst-case scenario.

What to do When the Power Goes Out in Winter

Before the storm

Once you know a storm is coming, it’s time to jump into action. Check your supply of batteries, nonperishable foods, and water. If any are running low, head to the store to replenish these supplies as soon as possible. You should also use this time to purchase firewood if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove. To protect your food, set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly, as well as any generators you may have. This way, you can be sure you’re safe as you use your heating devices. Just don’t sleep with anything other than your normal heating system on, as that could cause a fire.

Check your windows and doors for potential leaks. If you find any, seal them with caulk or weather stripping. If you can’t get your hands on these materials, duct tape and plastic sheets will work in a pinch.

Have excess blankets, coats, scarves, and other warm-weather materials easily accessible and ready to use. Identify the warmest room in the home, should the power go out, and consider setting up a “home base” there.

After an outage occurs

Once power goes out, report the outage to your power company as soon as possible. Then, check in with your neighbors. If they still have power, see if they would be willing to let you camp out in their home and stay warm. If they do not, stay where you are. Avoid going outside and letting out what remains of the warm air.

Layers are the best way to stay insulated and warm. This means leggings under pants, sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens or gloves. It may feel silly wearing so much clothing indoors, but it is better to be warm than cold. Make sure you recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can call for emergency services as soon as you notice them. To conserve battery, only use your phone for emergency calls and quick updates to friends and loved ones.

Use flashlights instead of candles for light. You might be tempted to light candles out of the assumption they will let off a little warmth, but too many candles are a fire hazard. If you do use candles, never leave them unattended and don’t fall asleep while they are still lit. Do NOT attempt to heat your home with a gas stove or oven. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.

Stay safe if the power goes out

Once the power returns

Thankfully, the worst is behind you. Now, you can assess you home for any safety concerns. Check for any burst pipes in the basement. If there is a flood, do not try to assess any equipment yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

If all seems well, focus on heating up your home before anything. Once the home has reached a more comfortable temperature, you can move on to managing the rest of your home. Slowly turn on electronics to avoid overwhelming the systems, and make sure the hot water heater is full before turning it on. If it’s been more than 48 hours, you may have to throw away spoiled foods.

Stay safe this winter

Don’t take any risks during the winter months! Your safety should always be your number one priority.

If you need help preparing for the cold weather, an at-home caregiver might be the answer. Caregivers can run any errands—like grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy—so you can be certain you have everything you need before the storm.

If you’re curious about how a home caregiver might help you, call us at (773) 274-9262.

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