Winter power outages

Be prepared for that unexpected winter power outage.

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

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