While it's important to be prepared for any kind of power outage, winter emergency preparedness may be the most critical of all. A loss of power in the winter means that it will be hard to maintain the heat in your home unless you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove. Taking a little time to get ready before a winter storm hits will help you wait it out without sacrificing your health and possibly comfort.
- Keep at least three days worth of drinking water on hand for each family member and your pets. Store shelf-ready or canned food in the pantry. It's better to overestimate the amount you'll need, since people need to eat more when it's cold to stay warm. Having enough nutritious prepared food on hand keeps you from opening the freezer or refrigerator, which retains the cold air better.
- Consider having a tent heater on hand that can keep at least one room warm. Some of these heaters burn close to 100 percent efficiency, which means that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is less of a risk. A backpacking stove will help you heat food or liquids, also increasing your comfort. These, too, emit little CO. Follow the instructions carefully when using them.
- Learn where to turn off the circuit breakers for your major appliances as part of winter emergency preparedness. When the power returns, it may surge, which can harm the electronics inside them. You can also have surge protector for your furnace installed, which protects it from most power spikes.
- Top off your gas tank when severe winter storms are predicted. You may need extra gas for charging batteries for phones or leaving your home for safety. Never run your vehicle in the garage for any longer than it takes to back out or pull in (whether the garage door is closed or not). CO can seep into your home from attached garages.
- Have extra bedding on hand or sleeping bags. You can even use bedding to hang over windows to retain more heat indoors.
- Consider buying a portable or standby generator to keep some or all of your circuits operating during a power outage.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about winter emergency preparedness and other HVAC topics, visit our website.