How to Prepare for a Winter Power Outage

As the cold weather continues to set in, now is a good time to discuss how to prepare for a winter power outage. Below are some steps anyone can take to ensure that you and your family are prepared to keep warm and keep fed for at least 72 hours of a winter weather power outage. Hopefully, you will never have to use your preparations, but they can be a lifesaver if you do.

Power Outage Supplies

  • Water for drinking and cooking – Sometimes during a power outage, the water supplied to your home by your local water utility may no longer be safe to drink without additional treatment. Packages of bottled water are great to keep on hand because the water stays good for years as long as the seals are not broken.
  • Non-perishable food – During a power outage, eat food from the refrigerator first, then from the freezer, then from your non-perishable food stash. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Be sure to keep a manual can opener in your non-perishable food stash!
  • Emergency lighting – Stock your power outage supply bin with enough flashlights for everyone in your family and make sure to keep extra compatible batteries. Battery powered LED lamps are also helpful to place around the home, especially in dark bathrooms. Place LED lamps or flameless candles in front of mirrors to magnify the light to a larger area.
  • Portable battery bank – Keep a couple of portable battery banks regularly charged that can support your mobile phones and any other important electronic equipment.
  • Alternative source of heat – In addition to heavy blankets and sleeping bags, a fireplace or kerosene space heater will be your best solution if the temperature drops below the level of comfort or safety for you during a power outage. Be cautious as some portable heaters can cause fires or other safety hazards when not used as specified by the manufacturer. Be sure to review the safety specifications of your specific model before using it during an outage.
  • Portable camping stove – Having a way to heat food and water during a power outage is a necessity. If your regular stove runs off of electricity, consider keeping a portable camping stove that runs off of propane in your emergency kit. Store extra propane tanks so you don’t run out!
  • Generator – If it’s in the budget, a generator can provide emergency power to your home during an extended power outage. You can have peace of mind by keeping the lights on, keeping the food refrigerated, keeping the heat running, and keeping a fully charged phone to be able to receive updates. Take care to not operate a generator indoors or in an enclosed area such as a garage where exhaust fumes and the considerable amount of heat produced can cause accidents. Position the generator outside and use a generator specific tent or cover to keep it out of the elements.

For those of you who have weathered a winter power outage in the past, let us know what items were most helpful to you. Check What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly from the CDC and Winter power outages: Are you prepared from the Red Cross for more information.