What to Do During a Winter Power Outage

What to Do During a Winter Power Outage

Taryn Williford
Nov 4, 2010

Growing up in Miami, we've been through more than a few extended power outages—we're talking weeks without power. But we had it easy. These powerless periods always happened during the summer hurricane season. Power failures can happen during the freezing winter months, too—and they're a heck of a lot tougher to get through. Here's a few tips to keep yourself, your family and your home happy in a blackout.

The second you see the lights go dark, prepare yourself for the worst. In the freezing cold weather of winter, your quick reaction can help you get through the blackout—whether it lasts for 5 minutes or 5 days:

  • Conserve the heat that's already inside your home by closing doors and windows and drawing curtains closed. Run your fireplace only if you're sure it's properly vented. Maybe consider something like the Brasa as a backup for warmth.
  • Even though it's tempting, don't use your kitchen's gas appliances for warmth. Your gas oven and stove top give off carbon monoxide and can easily cause fires if not properly used and attended to.
  • Keep an eye out on the inside and outside temperatures. Use your built-in thermostat or make sure to add a thermometer to your emergency preparedness kit.
  • A home can typically retain enough heat to keep pipes from freezing for two days without power. But if you spot the temperature inside dropping below 40°F, you'll want to drain your pipes.
  • Don't know how to drain your pipes? No problem. It's easy: Shut off your home's main water valve. Then, starting at the highest point in your home, open all the sink, shower and bathtub faucets. Work your way down to the lowest level, draining each faucet as you go and leaving them open. Last, flush all of the toilets at least twice to try and train as much water as you can from the bowl and the tank.

If you need some more tips on how to get through a power outage regardless of the season, check out How to Deal With an Unexpected Power Outage. You'll find tips on what to pack in your preparedness kit and how to protect a fridge full of perishables.

(Images: Flickr user Athenia Li under license from Creative Commons, Flickr user Little Zey under license from Creative Commons)

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