It’s been two days of strong winds and snow in the New England region, as we write this post, and a good reminder to all of us living in the Region, and particularly, those living on Boston’s South Shore or in some other New England coastal area, that we should always make sure we’re well-prepared for a power outage. Unfortunately, this somewhat common winter power-outage circumstance can leave businesses and families without heat, electricity, and/or communication services for one or many days.
Most of us hardy New Englanders and those who live on Massachusetts’ Eastern coast know how un-fun and un-safe (particularly for the elderly, young children, and those who are ill) not having power in the late fall and winter can be. Homes and businesses can get cold really quickly in our colder temps, perishable food like meat and dairy can go bad, and one can easily trip or get physically hurt for other reasons when you can’t see your way around your house or office after the sun goes down. Why not avoid, or at least minimize, all the aforementioned possible unpleasant — and potentially dangerous — impacts of a winter storm power outage by taking the following preparation steps.
Steps to Prepare for a Power Outage:
I. Ideally, weeks before a winter storm may hit and knock out power in your area:
- Make sure your home, business, and pipes will be bundled up — Employ insulation, caulking, and weather to prevent cold from seeping into your home or office. Learn more about keeping pipes from freezing.
- Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and purchase extra batteries to have on hand for them. As we discussed in our most recent blog post, cold weather, in general, increases the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning.
II. In the days leading up to a predicted winter storm:
- Think like a camper — purchase candles, flashlights, and battery-operated lanterns if you don’t already own some, and be sure you have matches and the right-sized batteries on hand for the aforementioned items. You may also want to purchase a radio if you don’t have one, and have batteries on hand for it.
- Go nuts — if you don’t already have a decent supply, stash up on high-protein packaged items like nuts, canned goods like tuna fish, and jarred food like peanut butter that don’t require heating, and therefore, a power source. You’ll also want a good supply on hand of other non-perishable items like crackers, and a loaf or two of bread that should stay fresh for a number of days.
- Act like a thirsty person — keep an extra supply of bottled water on hand and ask those you live with not to drink it, so it’s there when you need it!
- Go down the family member checklist — make sure that any needs related to a family members’ physical and emotional health challenges will be met during a storm time frame when roads may not be drive-able or pharmacies open. Be sure family members have a sufficient supply of any prescription or over-the-counter medications or other treatments they may need to maintain their health.
- Seek out the warm, comfy, cozy stuff — to prevent having to do so in the dark, identify where you’ve stored any thick blankets, sweaters, and socks for yourself and family members and consider moving them to a more accessible place. For example, if your surplus of blankets is stored in a basement closet that would require you to go down a set of stairs in the dark during a power outage, why not move them upstairs for the winter?
- Don’t forget furry family members — make sure you have plenty of food in the house for your pets, whether they be four-legged creatures or ones that swim in a bowl or tank.
- Fill up your tank — speaking of tanks, in case you need to vacate your home or business (that is if roads and weather conditions make it safe to travel) to stay at a shelter like a school, a friend’s or family member’s home, or a hotel, make sure you have plenty of gas in your car. And, related to cars, be sure to purchase and keep a cell phone charger that works in your car should you need to recharge your phone and are able to make it safely to your car to do so.
We’re always here to chat with you about ways to keep your roof, home, business, and family warm & safe this winter, but be sure to also check out our other “winter safety” blog posts: