The Northeast United States was crushed under three feet of snow this weekend. The storm caused downed power lines and resulted in thousands of people being without power for several days. What do you do when the power goes out? Having no power for several hours or days is especially dangerous in freezing temperatures. Here are a few tips to help you out.
“Be Prepared” is not only the Boy Scouts’ motto, it should be yours as well. Don’t wait for a power outage before you act.
Make certain you have plenty of fresh batteries on hand for flashlights and a battery-powered portable radio. Place a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to flashlights to make them easy to spot in the dark. It may also be wise to invest in battery-powered candles so you have a constant light source. You may consider getting some kerosene lamps, wicks and lamp oil before the next storm. These will provide a much stronger light.
Make certain your home is properly insulated and that doors and windows are caulked. Make certain you know how to manually open your garage door. Store plenty of alternate fuel such as wood for a fireplace.
If you have exposed pipes that may be in danger of freezing, wrap them in insulation or several layers of newspaper. If using newspaper, cover the pipes with plastic to keep out moisture. Know how to turn off water valves in your home and make certain you can turn them on and off.
If you know a storm is coming set your freezer and refrigerator settings to the coldest level (just remember to set it back to a normal setting when the storm has passed or the power restored). If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated, check with your pharmacy on how to protect it during an extended outage.
Once the storm hits, let your faucets drip to prevent freezing. If your water supply will be adversely affected by a lack of power then fill your bathtub with water and any extra plastic containers. Place an empty bucket by the tub. The toilet will flush if you pour a pail of water directly into the bowl. By the way, don’t drink any water you use to fill the tub. It is only for sanitation purposes.
Dress for the cold in several lightweight layers. The many layers work better to insulate you than one heavy layer. Put on a hat and gloves or mittens. You can lose heat on any part of your exposed body.
Here’s another important tip: if the power goes out unplug all your sensitive electronic equipment including T.V.s, VCR, microwave, computer, cordless phone, answering machine and the garage door opener. There is a good reason for this. The power surge when the electricity is restored could cause voltage irregularities that could fry your equipment.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac had another excellent tip. Call shelters, motels or hotels that have power. See if they will accept pets in case you need to leave your home and seek alternative shelter.
I’m certain you can think of others but whatever happens, don’t be caught unprepared. Maybe winter storms will pass Omaha this year. But by then we’ll be in tornado season.
Be prepared too, when you are thinking of buying or selling a home, with the name and number of an excellent Realtor like me. You can call or text me at 402-670-8775 or email me at Marie.Otis@cbshome.com.