Freezing ice and blizzards can cause power outages in the upcoming winter months. Weather causes about one-quarter of power outages, while falling trees and faulty or malfunctioning equipment account for another quarter each. The final quarter of power outages is caused by wild animals, lightning, human interference, car accidents and more.
Even though electrical crews work round the clock to keep us on the grid, power outages can last from a few minutes, to several hours, to even a few days. It is important to be prepared in the event of a power outage, so that you and your family can ride it out safely, particularly in the colder months of the year.
Before the power goes out, stock up your pantry and emergency supply kit. Have one gallon of water per person per day, for a minimum of three days, as well as plenty of dried or canned foods. Basic necessities that everyone should have on hand, include a first aid kit, flashlight, battery powered radio, batteries, wet wipes, a can opener and a fire extinguisher. In addition, tailor your emergency supplies to your and your family's needs - and don't forget the pets! If you live in an area prone to power outages, consider investing in a generator.
Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors function properly and get in the habit of changing the batteries regularly. Homes are at a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter months. If the power is out for an extended period of time, be cautious of how long and how many open flames you may be using. If the detectors go off, you must leave the building immediately and call 911.
Turning off the main breaker can help reduce the chance of damage to appliances in a power outage. Using surge protectors can help limit costly damage that a power surge could cause to appliances. Help keep pipes from freezing in winter by running all faucets at a constant drip. When the temperatures dip below freezing, keep all vents, furnaces, meters, etc, free of ice or snow build up.
Contact your local electrical company to advise of power outages, and also to stay up to date about when the power will be back on. Check in on neighbors, and consider creating a community phone tree to keep in touch with the local community.