Winter Power Outages: How To Plan Ahead And Ensure Safety


While the basics of preparing for power outages apply year round, there are special considerations in winter due to heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain. You will need to prepare to stay warm safely and be able to keep fresh water available for your family and pets…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).

Winter Power Outages: How To Plan Ahead And Ensure Safety

When I think of winter power outages, one year in particular comes to mind…2013. It was in the middle of the night and the temperature was 17 degrees with a windchill of about 5 degrees. Our area was being pounded with sleet and freezing rain. Eventually the power lines became weighed down and just like that the power went out…and it would stay out for 8 long hours.

In this article, we’ll discuss the preparations needed to withstand the grueling wait of a winter power outage. Let’s begin!

Assess Your Family’s Needs

  • How many people will be sheltering in your home during the power outage?
  • How many pets will you be caring for during the power outage?
  • Do you have infants?
  • Does anyone in your household, including pets, take medications?
  • Does anyone in your household require special medical equipment, such as an oxygen concentrator?
  • Are there cold-blooded pets, such as snakes or lizards, that rely on a heat source to survive?
  • Do you have a heat source that does not require electricity, such as a wood stove?
  • Do you have an alternative power source, such as a generator?

portable-generator Winter Power Outages: How To Plan Ahead And Ensure Safety

Provide A Safe Alternative Heat Source

  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, make sure it is in good working condition before the winter season arrives. Have the chimney cleaned. Stock up on dry firewood and kindling.
  • Consider purchasing a portable propane or kerosene heater that is meant for indoor use. Make sure you have plenty of fuel for the heater.
  • Always use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector when using an alternative heat source.

Stock Up On Enough Food And Water To Last 1 to 2 Weeks.

Most power outages never last that long but, just to be on the safe side…

  • You will need about one gallon of water for each adult, child, and pet per day.
  • Food should not require cooking or refrigeration, and should provide balanced nutrition.

Here is an example list of non-perishable foods to stock up on for potential power outages this winter season:

  • Canned foods such as tuna, salmon, sardines, corned beef, beets, beans and fruit.
  • Peanut butter or similar nut spreads and preserves (jellies, jams)
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Powdered or canned milk
  • Protein bars and protein shakes

stacked-water-bottles Winter Power Outages: How To Plan Ahead And Ensure Safety

Other Items To Stock Up On

  • Over the counter medications as well as prescription medications
  • Diapers
  • Baby formula and/or baby food
  • A non-electric can opener
  • Charcoal or propane for the grill
  • Pet food
  • Batteries and a Solar Powered Battery Charger
  • Cat litter
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic utensils
  • Toilet paper
  • Extra blankets
  • Winter gloves, scarves, hats, socks, and coats

 Other Important Considerations

  • Purchase fresh fuel for your generator, if you have one. If you do not own a generator, I would highly recommend purchasing one.
  • Purchase a backup power source for medical devices.
  • Stock up on flashlights and fresh batteries.
  • Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank powered radio. It is important to stay informed on current weather conditions during a power outage.
  • Keep your cell phones and other devices fully charged if you are in danger of a power outage.
  • Consider purchasing decks of cards and/or board games for the family. A power outage is serious business and should be treated as such BUT, family time can make it much more bearable and even fun.

Have a power outage tip you would like to share? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Winter Power Outages: How To Plan Ahead And Ensure Safety

If you’re looking for some emergency power outage supplies, check these out!

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