It’s mid-December and, in central Virginia, we’ve been spared any serious winter weather so far this season. However, with forecasts of a potential ice storm for the upcoming weekend, now is the time to ensure your household is prepared. As you may have experienced in previous years, ice storms can cause extended power outages in our area. In our modern world, we rely heavily on a functioning power supply. Is your family ready?
There are several things you can do in advance to be prepared for a power outage. In fact, most people can probably check off these items at first reading; if not, take some time to work on this list:
- For some homeowners, having a generator provides peace of mind. A backup generator will allow you to power communication devices and important appliances like your refrigerator and heat pump or AC.
- Stock an emergency kit in an accessible place in your home. It should include flashlights, batteries, a radio, basic first aid supplies, and water.
- If you have an option for backup or alternate heat other than a heat pump, ensure that your system is in good order and has sufficient fuel. Consider calling a professional to inspect the system.
- Purchase an alternate method for charging your cell phone, such as a portable battery pack or a car charger. Your cell phone can be your link to news and updates about weather and power line repairs, and you don’t want to be stuck with a dead battery.
- Stock some basic non-perishable food supplies in your kitchen: manual can opener, water, canned goods, etc.
- Verify that you know how to open and close your electric garage door so you can continue to come and go as needed.
- Stock entertainment options that don’t rely on electricity: cards, simple crafts, board games, etc.
- Install surge protectors to protect valuable electronics including computers and televisions.
Last minute preparations
As we move into our wintry months, keep an eye on the forecast so you can make these last-minute preparations:
- Make sure your warm clothes and sleeping bags are accessible. If your heat won’t function without electricity, it can get cold quickly!
- Fully charge your cell phone and other important battery-powered devices.
- Your generator, gas grill, camp stove, gas fireplace, etc. may function without power so check your fuel supply for any alternate power, cooking, or heating systems you plan to use. Of course, follow all safety precautions for using these appliances!
- Take stock of your pantry and run to the grocery store to resupply as needed on water and foods that you can prepare without electricity. Some ideas: nut butter, jelly, hazelnut spread, shelf-stable milk or protein shakes, cereal (with rehydrated milk, if you want), fruit, canned fruit or juice, pretzels, nuts, jerky, granola or protein bars, canned meats, tortillas, bread. Also consider buying disposable plates, napkins, utensils, and cups – especially if you lose your water supply during a power outage.
- If your water supply requires power (such as a well with an electric pump), load up on additional water for your household.
- If there is room in your freezer, purchase ice to fill any empty spaces.
- Fill the gas tanks on your cars; gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
At first, a power outage can seem like a fun adventure, especially for kids: a no-holds junk food fest and sleepovers with Mom and Dad! However, the novelty may quickly erode and, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take steps to prepare your family for a power outage to ensure everyone can stay as safe and comfortable as possible until your electric supply is restored!