Winter Power Outage Tips

19 January 2022

Winter’s not over yet and we can still expect some heavy snow and ice storms that can take down power lines and transformers.  There are many things that you probably will do in advance like stock up on groceries, fill your vehicles with gas, check all the flashlights (which are infinitely safer than candles), and charge your electronic devices.  When you are in the middle of the power outage, here are some things to keep in mind:

Pipes

Frozen pipes can burst, which not only creates an awful mess, but will cost a bundle to have them replaced and take care of the ensuing damage.  Insulating them is a good start.  If nothing else, wrap them in bath towels to retain some heat.  If you have a gas water heater, you will have boiling water.  Fill empty two liter bottles or gallon jugs and place them near exposed pipes.  Leave the cabinet doors open under the sinks to allow the warm air to circulate.

Leave the faucets to drip but don’t let that water go to waste.  Collect it in a bucket for later on.

After power is restored, use the pipe freeze protection mode in a ductless heat pump.  This allows the pump to continuously blow hot air to prevent the temperature from going below freezing, but still uses minimum energy.

Drafts

Use throw rugs, blankets, and other items to stuff in the gaps around the base of doors or windows.  After you are in the clear be sure to caulk any of the other leaks you discovered.  Don’t just close windows; actually lock them.  This will keep the seals tighter and prevent air seepage.  Also close the blinds and drapes.  It will be dark and gloomy but warmer.

Dress in layers

Start with thermal underwear, flannel shirts, sweaters.  Use latex gloves under your winter gloves or mittens.  Keep your head covered.  Use scarves to wrap around your face.

Kids

Children can become upset and stressed out.  Keep toys, coloring books or other activities available to distract them as much as possible.

Wood Burning Fireplace

If you are fortunate enough to have a traditional wood burning fireplace, you are in luck.  Be sure the wood is seasoned and dry.

Bathtubs

If you have an electric water pump, fill bathtubs and basins, even washing machines, with water so you will have something to wash in or rinse your hands.

Disconnect Electrical

As the power is restored, there can be electrical surges so unplugging major appliances can help.

Afterward

After the power is fully restored, double check for any damaged pipes.  Signs to look for include water spots or pooling around the pipes, even non-functional faucets.  Always turn off the water at the main shut off and contact a professional.

Check on neighbors (especially seniors and families with small children).  Dispose of any spoiled food.  If you have medication that needed to remain at a cool, constant temperature, you may need to discard it.  Contact your pharmacist and physician for information.

Replace or replenish any items that were used during the storm, including canned goods, powdered milk, batteries, etc.

Check the breaker box to see if any circuits have been tripped.  If you have concerns, call an electrician.

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