Winter power outages

Be prepared for that unexpected winter power outage.

January 23, 2013 - Author: Jane Hart,

The north winds are howling. It’s in the single digits. You have no power. Unfortunately, this is an occurrence that sometimes happens in Michigan. If you don’t have a generator to rely on, or a woodstove to stay warm and/or cook with, it can be a matter of life and death. There are some things you can do in these circumstances. Michigan State University Extension recommends the following:

  • If you have no alternative heat, you can call your local fire or police department or local Red Cross chapter to locate an emergency shelter.
  • Call your power provider. If your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to call your plumber and ask about draining your home's water pipes so they don't freeze and burst.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full. You never know if you may need to go to a warming station. What's more, your automobile can be a place to get warm, as long as you keep it well ventilated and don't go to sleep while the motor is running.
  • Wear layers of clothing. Layering can keep insulating air between layers to help keep you warmer. Remember to keep your head and hands covered.
  • Cook using charcoal or propane grills – ONLY OUTSIDE.
  • If you use a pump for water and don’t have any gallons put aside, gather snow and melt it in buckets to use in toilets.
  • If you can keep a land line phone, do so. You won’t have to worry about charging a cell phone.

One good thing about losing your power in the winter is that your garage freezer is generally safe – you will be able to save those foods for use later. If your perishable foods in your refrigerator sit for more than two hours at a temperatire more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, throw them out.

What can you do before the next winter electrical outage? You can stock up on the following:

  • Oil lamps, candles, camping lights and matches
  • Battery operated radio
  • Flashlights, one for every family member
  • Fresh batteries
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Bottled water, juice
  • Propane for an outdoor grill or camp stove (do not use grills or camp stoves indoors)
  • Extra gasoline if you have a generator. A portable electric generator can be a valuable backup source of power to operate your furnace and appliances.
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency numbers – fire, police, doctor, your electric company and Red Cross for emergency shelters
  • Waterless antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Paper goods: Paper plates, paper towels, plastic ware

Tags: family, food & health, msu extension

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