Winter weather is more than just cold and uncomfortable. In fact, severe storms are often responsible for lengthy power outages that leave families scrambling to stay warm and safe in their homes. The lack of power not only means going without lights and electrical devices, it often means that electrical heating systems, water pumps and cooking appliances are also unavailable. If your family's home is located in an area that experiences severe winter weather, taking steps to prepare your home for possible power outages is the best way to stay safe, warm and well fed when the next blizzard hits.
A Backup Plan For Food and Water
Driving to the grocery store during a severe snow or ice storm can mean being injured in an accident or becoming stuck in a snowdrift, so having a winter weather stockpile is essential. Learn more and choose easy to store foods that are nourishing and tasty, as well as easy to prepare. Include other items that may be needed to cook or serve the food easily when the power is out. Here is a basic list to get you started.
- Bottled water, allowing at least one gallon per person for at least 10 days, and some extra waters for reconstituting powdered milk and drink mixes and making instant tea or coffee
- Disposable cups, bowls, tableware, plates and napkins and a good supply of wet wipes and sanitizing lotion
- A manual can opener and two metal pans or skillets that can be used to heat up food and a tea kettle for heating water
- A way to heat food and water without electricity, such as a gas grill (outside use only) or a supply of canned cooking fuel
- Canned soups, stews, fruits, meats, pastas and broth
- Individually packaged convenience foods, such as puddings, fruit cups, cookies, cereal, crackers, nuts and other snacks
- Powdered milk and drink mixes and instant coffee and tea
A Backup Plan For Heat
When the power goes out due to a winter storm, electric and even gas furnaces are not capable of keeping the home warm because they require electricity to move the warm air throughout the home. Therefore, having a safe, reliable back up plan for emergency heat is a must. To plan for this, first choose a location in the home that you will be able to move the family into in order to keep them comfortable with no central heat. Choose an area that can be curtained off with blankets or quilts and be sure it is large enough to contain a table or counter for eating, space for sleeping bags to be unrolled and a small area for activities such as reading or games to help stave off boredom.
If possible, choose a room that has a fireplace and plan ahead to have it outfitted with a gas fireplace insert. Electric fireplaces are useless when the power is off, and wood burning fireplaces require a large supply of wood and can put the family at risk of chimney fires. In addition, wood burning fireplaces are inefficient, due to losing much of the heat through the flue. A gas fireplace, however, gives off clean, efficient heat that radiates outward to comfortably warm the room where your family is staying, even without the use of electricity to operate the blower. If your home does not have a gas fireplace, your local HVAC contractor can help you install one in just about any room of your home.
A Backup Plan for Light
Safer than candles, old-fashioned oil lamps can be an easy to way to add some light to the room where you are staying. Choose well-made lamps and practice with them before winter arrives, so that you will be able to operate them without smoking up the room where you are staying. Make sure that you have an ample supply of good quality lamp oil, replacement wicks, and matches stored, also.In addition, if your outdoor areas are outfitted with solar lights, consider grabbing a few of them each evening to create enough light to move about safely during the dark, cold nights.