A winter storm hits. The power goes out, and you are already starting to feel the cold creep under the door. You worry about the food in your fridge. You won’t be able to go out until the streets are clear. Now what? Trapped, cold, hungry and, even scarier, your cell’s charge is running low!
Don’t panic. Usually, power outages don’t last long, but the wait can seem like forever. If you are prepared, however, you will know exactly what to do, and will be happy, safe and warm!
Cell service: During a severe storm, it is possible that cell service may be interrupted, but it is more likely that your connection issues will be due to a lack of charge. According to the American Red Cross, the internet – including online news sites and social media platforms – is the third most popular way for Americans to gather emergency information and let their loved ones know they are safe. Be Tech Ready for any emergency by following these simple tech tips from Ready.Gov.
Food Safety: The number one precaution you can take is very simple. Do NOT open your refrigerator or freezer. This will ensure that the food stored in these appliances is kept safe for a short-term outage. In fact, a properly-functioning refrigerator that remains closed during a power outage can keep your food safe for up to four hours. If the outage lasts longer, however, you may want to find other methods of keeping food fresh and safe to eat. The American Red Cross has great tips for becoming prepared for longer power outages. In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services has a checklist of what to keep and what to toss when the power goes out. Hungry? Use that food in your pantry. Granola bars, canned fruit and other non-perishable foods should always be kept on hand.
Safe Heating: If you are living in a house, a portable generator might be an option for you. Just remember that dangerous carbon monoxide can build up if the generators are not used properly. The National Safety Council recommends that you always have a carbon monoxide monitor in the same area where you are using a portable generator. For their complete list of safety tips, click here. There are other ways to stay warm safely. Wear layers, block off any drafts coming from windows or doors and remember that other materials can be used for protection. Think outside the box. Build a fort of sheets or blankets to trap body heat. Newspapers can be used as layers in additional to beach towels, and extra clothing. For important do’s and don’t’s, take a look at FEMA’s guide on “How to Prepare for a Winter Storm.“
During a power outage, the main thing to remember is that becoming prepared for emergency situations is your best option. Never assume it won’t happen to you. Make a plan, and you won’t find yourself left out in the cold!