Nearly everything we do at home requires electricity, from cooking to communicating to keeping ourselves entertained. It’s easy to forget how much we depend on electricity—until there’s an outage. Power outages can be difficult to weather any time of year, but frigid temperatures without a working heater can be hard on both you and your home. So, when a winter storm gets on your radar, there’s no time to lose. Start preparing for inclement weather today, and you’ll be in the best shape for whenever winter snowfall suddenly takes a turn for the worst.
1) If you have a wood burning fireplace, keep firewood and fire-starting materials on hand and in a dry area. This is a wonderful source of heat (it worked for hundreds of years before we all had electricity to our homes, of course) but also an underrated source of warm food and drink. With some camping cookware, or old-fashioned cast iron, you can enjoy a cup of hot coffee and a nice warm meal even if your kitchen is all-electric.
2) Keep flashlights and headlamps ready and accessible. Don’t plan on using candles; flashlights are a much safer source of light during chilly winter nights.
3) Locate warm blankets and jackets. During a cold-weather power outage, layers are your best friend. Put on the tank tops, t-shirts, flannels, and jackets, then don’t be shy about wrapping up in a blanket on top of everything. Layers trap warm air close to your skin, keeping you comfortable in low temperatures.
4) Never use appliances, like a gas stove, to heat your home. Not only were stoves not designed to heat your space, but they can also be more than ineffective. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
5) Do not risk your health waiting on power. If you feel that you are in danger, call a friend that has electricity or go to a hotel. The bottom line is that it isn’t worth it. If you need to wait overnight in the winter for power to be restored, and you have enough layers and light sources to comfortably make it through, that’s great. If your home has infants, small children, vulnerable pets, or elderly family members, look for somewhere safe to wait for your electricity to return.