What You Need For A Power Outage During Winter
by Ken Jorgustin, Modern Survival Blog
A power outage (I should say power outages – plural) is one of the most common results of a severe winter storm. Heavy snow or ice accumulating on tree branches can rapidly weigh down trees until limbs begin breaking off, some of which may land on power lines and take them down too. Strong winds may accompany a winter storm and will also take down trees, wreaking havoc on the power grid.
The worse the winter storm, the more likely you will suffer a power outage.
Here is what you need for a power outage during winter:
You need to be prepared BEFORE the winter storm. Too many people are not prepared at all, or wait until hours before the onset of predicted weather. Don’t be one of them…
That aside, don’t panic, it’s not that difficult.
One of the big concerns is staying warm (it’s winter). The degree of magnitude here will depend on your climate and will depend on whether or not you’re going through a real cold stretch…
A house without heat will get cold rather quickly – depending on how well your home is insulated. Not only do YOU want to stay warm, but your water pipes inside the walls of your home need to stay above freezing. In my estimation, your water pipes will be okay for 24-48 hours without home heat (more or less depending on your outside temperatures) because it will take significant time for cold to penetrate fully. A power outage is typically restored within the time it might take to really freeze up a house.
Tip: If the temperature inside the house drops below freezing, turn on (slightly) every faucet inside the house so that water is trickling out into the basin. This will keep the water moving through the pipes and will slow down (or possibly eliminate) bursting pipes from frozen water.
That said, let’s talk about keeping warm. Without a furnace (needs electricity to run) you have very limited options – but you need to consider them. Obviously if you have a wood stove, you’re all set. Pellet stoves (nearly all) require electricity – so your SOL there… If you already have a generator installed such that it integrates with your electrical panel, then you’re all set – However if you have not planned well ahead, buying a generator the day before a winter storm will not necessarily enable your furnace (unless you really know what you’re doing and have electrical knowledge and experience).
You will need SAFE indoor heat, and/or you will need to wear warm clothes that you wouldn’t otherwise wear while indoors (e.g. ‘long johns’, layers, double socks, etc..).
The best safe portable heater that I’ve come across (and have for my own) is the Mr. Heater Buddy (propane). I’ve previously written an article about it:
Portable Heater For Winter Survival Preparedness
FLASHLIGHTS – LANTERNS
I would certainly hope that everyone has at least one flashlight in their home. But that’s not enough. Every member of the household needs a flashlight and you should also consider a few battery operated lanterns.
If you don’t already have a flashlight with LED technology, then you should make the switch. They stay lit for MUCH LONGER and the technology has come a long way during the past few years. There are many of them to pick from. Be careful though – many of them are cheap junk, and remember the saying – ‘you get what you pay for’.
I’ve written an article on one particular ‘best’ flashlight that fit my needs at the time:
A safe alternative to a traditional lantern is an LED lantern. They will provide LOTS of hours of light, and they’re perfect for simply setting on a table or hanging somewhere. Awhile ago I reviewed what I consider to be one of the best portable lanterns:
PORTABLE BATTERY OPERATED RADIO
With a power outage comes a sharp cutoff of outside information. A battery powered portable AM/FM radio will become a valuable resource to discover information on power outage restoration expectations, storm severity and impact, etc..
I’ve written a number of articles on portable radios. Here’s one which offers up several choices – any of which might interest you:
A Preparedness Resource: Portable AM Radio
Awhile ago I reviewed what might be the best ‘cheap’ pocket portable AM/FM radio:
Best Cheap Pocket Radio
EVERYONE should have a Weather Radio. A NOAA weather radio will provide advance warning to severe weather and is useful in winter and summer (all seasons). I have a number of reviews, one of which identifies several of the best weather radios:
Weather Radio Reviews
NON PERISHABLE FOOD
During a power outage, your municipal water supply should not be affected due to an abundance of gravity-fed water storage (tanks) and/or generators which will power the water pumps at the facilities.
However those of you (including me) who have well water, you WILL NEED a generator to power the pump (unless you’ve rigged up an alternative method to withdraw the water).
That said, it is ALWAYS a good idea to keep on hand an amount of drinking water storage.