Surviving a Winter Power Outage
How to Survive a Power Outage in the Winter: The Basics
Before the Storm: Preparing for the Unexpected
Surviving During an Outage in the Winter
- Have an Emergency Plan
- Create an Emergency Kit
- Stock Ample Supplies
- Have a Source of Heat or Power
- Insulate Your Home
Relax and Try to Have Some Fun
After the Storm
- Check Your Circuit Breaker
- Close All Doors and Windows
- Start a Fire
- Turn on a Generator
- Camp Indoors
- Stay Warm and Wear Extra Clothing
- Keep Food Cold
- Watch for Signs of Illness
- Check Your Radio
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emergency supply kits that are tailored for a specific number of people online. These kits provide universal coverage for an inexperienced survivalist.
Alternatively, building your own emergency kit is an easy project for a rainy day. You can use a backpack or a storage container of any size to hold its supplies. It is important to remember that your kit should be packed with essential items you will need to survive without electricity or gas for at least 72 hours:
- Medical supplies
- Clean water
- Non-perishable food (enough to last you and your family three days)
These items will cover your basic needs and any type of situation where you are stuck in your home without gas and electricity for an extended period.
However, while the basics are helpful, you want to have a higher level of preparedness. Consider also supplying the kit with the following:
- Cell phone battery packs
- Money – cash or travelers’ checks
- Two-way radio
- Protective masks
- Portable cooking device (e.g., grill, Sterno lighters, a propane stovetop)
- Local maps
- Fire extinguisher
An emergency kit should be tailored to your family’s needs and supply everyone in the household. Consider the items you will need if you have a child or expecting a child, a pet, an or elderly family member. Have a checklist for everyone, and once a month, ensure the kit is kept current and stocked with the appropriate things.
non-perishable food, such as:
- Canned goods
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- Dried noodles and soups
- Beef jerky and other dried meats
- Dehydrated foods
- Dried fruits and nuts
- Powdered milk
- Canned proteins
Something worth mentioning here is that you will need to have a sufficient fuel source for heat to warm up any food should the power go out; this can range from gas and propane to wood. Ideally, your electricity will be restored in a timely manner, but you can never be too sure how long it will take during a severe winter storm. Either way, you’re going to want to have plenty of fuel or wood on hand to last you until then. With that said, this leads to our next point.
- Portable – Converts gas, propane, or diesel into electrical power for several hours. A portable generator will provide you with plenty of power for at least three days before you have to start rationing fuel supplies.
- Inverter – This type of generator automatically controls the output of energy based on how much is being used, making these generators quieter and more environmentally friendly.
- Standby – These are large generators that automatically turn on when circuit power is cut. These are powered with natural gas.
When it comes to which type of generator is the best for you, it depends on your personal preferences. Each generator has a specific output of watts and volts, so they need to be less or match the total wattage and voltage required to power your home to be effective.
Once you have a generator running, you have the option to run an extension cord directly from the generator to a bank of electrical outlets. This can be done by feeding the electrical cable through a window; be sure to close the window a much as possible, and then fill the remaining areas with a cloth or towel to limit the amount of cold breeze entering the home.
Generators & Transfer Switches
You could also install a transfer switch into your home; this is a fail-safe switch that is added to the electrical board, or a separate electrical box that switches the intake between circuit power and generated power.
An electrical outlet is installed into the side of your home that receives the transfer switch power cord from the generator; this is run directly into the electrical box, where you can manually turn on and off which circuits you want to power. Make sure you do not overload the generator (asking for too much electricity than it can produce). This will cause the generator to shut off and break the circuit, or create a fire from overheating.
Hang a blanket to cover large window surfaces. If the window is facing the sun, a black blanket will retain heat from the sun and easily warm up the room.
human body generates about as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb. If you confine 1 or 2 individuals in a small environment, you can sustain a comfortable temperature. When you add warm clothes and a blanket, it will be downright toasty.
4 hours without power, and freezers can keep food cold for 24-48 hours depending on how often the door is opened. Meats, seafood, poultry, and dairy cannot be exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees for more than two hours.
The one fortunate scenario about being in a winter storm is that you can use the snowdrifts as a refrigerator. Make sure that you store all the food in coolers and containers, however, because you don’t want any wildlife showing up for a snack.
signs of hypothermia:
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
Bright red, cold skin
If you notice any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to call 911. If someone’s temperature goes below 95 degrees:
- Give them a warm beverage
- Heat the chest with a heating blanket or skin-to-skin contact
- Wrap their whole body in warm, dry blankets
Check for freezing pipes.
Freezing pipes can lead to expensive damage and a loss of valuables. If you forgot to insulate your pipes for the winter, you could wrap pipes with newspaper for a temporary fix. Also, allow your faucets to drip; running water through pipes (even a tiny amount) can prevent freezing.
If you are worried about your pipes freezing, fill up a bathtub with water. This will provide you with several gallons of water to use in case of an emergency. You can also boil it for drinking water. If the toilet refuses to flush, dumping some of that water (about one bucket’s worth) down the bowl will force it to flush manually.
Food Safety that you should inspect carefully following a power outage.