Winter storms, especially ice storms, frequently result in power outages because the weight of ice on trees and wires result in limbs breaking, whole trees falling over, and wires being over weighted by the ice. Now is the time to prepare for an unexpected power outage due to ice storms. Take the following measures to keep you and your family safe.
Before the Storm
- Stock up on food and water essentials. Include non-food items like toilet paper and disposable diapers.
- Get several flashlights or camping lanterns and lots of corresponding batteries. Solar lights (yard lights make great night lights for the bathroom) can be used to help maneuver in the dark.
- You will need a way to monitor the weather. Get a battery operated or hand-crank radio tuned to the emergency weather channel in your area. Remember extra batteries.
- Keep your cellular phone and other electronics you may use for communication charged. To conserve their power, keep them turned off except when you’re using them. Buying a car charger for your phone will give you an opportunity to recharge it as needed. Texting uses less power.
- Before the storm season begins in your area, walk around your property looking for tree limbs hanging over power lines which may fall, cutting off power. Have them trimmed to reduce the chance that your limb is the one responsible for causing the power outage in your neighborhood.
When the Storm is Approaching
- Fill up your car’s fuel tank. Don’t let it get below 1/2 full ever. Remember that gas stations may loose electrical power and be unable to pump gas during a winter storm.
- Walk around your property looking for any items that could get destroyed, damaged or trip you when you’re walking around outside and put them in storage.
During an Ice Storm
- Stay home. Do not even go outside to the mailbox. Icy sidewalks can be the site for a major hip breaking fall. Rescue squads will be slow arriving.
- When the power goes out, telephone your local utility company to report the outage. The phone number should be located on your bill or in the telephone directory. Unless there is someone injured or there are power lines down in your neighborhood, do not call the overloaded 9-1-1.
- To make sure your water pipes don’t freeze, run a small stream of water from the faucets.
- If you have a generator, do not connect it directly to your house without the proper connections made by an electrician. Taking your house off the city’s system will prevent the power you generate from creating “feed-back” into utility lines and perhaps injuring or killing someone working to repair the line. Plug all necessary appliances directly into the generator. Heavy duty extension cords will help with this. A freezer stays cold with a 20 minute run every four hours.
- Unplug all appliances, leaving one lamp turned on. This will minimize the risk of a power surge ruining any sensitive appliances. Computers are especially susceptible to this.
- Check on any elderly neighbors. Make sure they are dressed warmly and offer to take them to your house for comfort if you find them in a dangerous situation. If help is refused, call 9-1-1.
- Be aware of the signs of hypothermia.
Billie Nicholson, Editor