How to prepare for a winter power outage

Posted in Home

A woman sits with a fully stocked first aid kit complete with medications and bandages.

No matter where you live, winter power outages can happen and leave you feeling stuck or unprepared. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take and supplies you can add to your home emergency plan to prepare for a power outage. 

Today, we’re going to cover food, technology and other supplies that can help meet your needs during a long power outage in winter. Then, we offer some power outage tips and tricks for staying warm until your power is restored. 

The basics of power outage prep

You don’t have to wait for a winter storm watch in the forecast to start planning for a power outage. Follow these steps to make the most of your winter storm prep. 

Create an emergency food plan 

Figure out what kinds of foods your family can eat that provide nutritional value and are ready to eat out of the packaging. Consumer Reports recommends food like “low-sodium canned beans, vegetables, fruit packed in fruit juice, breakfast cereal, peanut butter, pouches of fully cooked whole grains, nuts, whole-wheat crackers, snack bars, and shelf-stable milk or plant milk (the kind sold in aseptic boxes in the grocery aisle)."

While making an emergency food plan, consider the dietary needs and restrictions of your family. Don’t forget to pack food for your pets. Store the emergency food somewhere cool and dry that’s separate from your pantry essentials so you don’t accidentally eat them. If possible, pack any necessary daily medications with emergency food for easy access when you need it. Lastly, be sure to include several days of food in the stockpile. 

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Keep this technology on hand 

When you experience a power outage at home, it’s important to have the right devices to stay aware of weather patterns and timelines for estimated power restoration. We recommend having a weather radio, crank charger, flashlights with extra batteries and fully charged, portable power banks on hand. 

Pro tip: Consider downloading shows and movies to your tablet or smartphone to watch offline. These can help keep the whole family entertained. 

Add these items to your winter emergency stockpile 

After you have food and technology covered, here are a few other items that can come in handy: 

  • Warm socks, hats, gloves and winter coats for the whole family to wear if necessary.
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, and other bedding for added warmth and to keep pets comfortable.
  • Bottles or jugs of drinking water to last several days. Tip: The recommendation for drinking water for an adult is between 11.5 and 15.5 cups each day.
  • First aid supplies in case of injury.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand wipes to stay sanitary while water lines are unavailable.

How to stay warm during a power outage in winter 

Here are some effective heat hacks for when the power goes out during cold weather:

  • If possible, keep your family and pets in one room to use body heat to your advantage. Choose a southern-facing room with windows for added daytime warmth.
  • Wear fabrics that retain heat. Wool and cotton blends will provide the most warmth but can be expensive pieces. To save some money, look for blends with manmade products like polyester that have a high percentage of wool or cotton.
  • Use a wood stove or wood fireplace if you have one. However, do not use the fireplace if you haven’t cleaned your fireplace or had a professional inspection in more than a year. You could also use a portable propane heater. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully to reduce the risk of house fire.

You can also consider investing in a portable generator to power smaller devices during a winter weather emergency. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before use. 

Consumer Reports 1
Consumer Reports 2
Better Homes & Gardens
National Fireplace Institute

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