Blackout Image by: Getty Images
Holiday soirees, baking sessions and shopping excursions are filling up our weekly schedules, and it’s becoming all too easy to get wrapped up in such glories the festive season brings. But, with these winter delights come plenty of cold weather side effects—like power outages—that we need to prepare for.
Power outages are especially common in the winter because they’re typically caused by freezing rain, sleet and high winds damaging power lines and equipment. Aside from your beloved tech and appliances being out of commission during an outage, you could also find yourself without heat, hot water or running water.
To ensure you’re not left in the dark (figuratively!) if or when a blackout occurs, we’ve gathered a few tips that will help keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.
1. Think ahead. Power outages can happen at any time, so it’s important for you and your family to be prepared. Keep a battery-operated flashlight and extra batteries in an easily accessible place, ensure the carbon monoxide detector in your home is working and has a battery-powered back-up, and protect any sensitive electrical appliances with surge-protecting power bars.
2. Make a kit. The Red Cross recommends having a “disaster preparedness kit” filled with the supplies you’ll need for at least 72 hours. We’ve asked our readers what they include in their kits, and most of them agree on the importance of flashlights, matches, and first aid kits—as well as alcohol and chocolate. We couldn’t agree more, but the Red Cross also suggests stocking up on bottled water, non-perishable foods (you know, other than chocolate), extra batteries, extra keys for your house and car, cash, personal hygiene items, important documents, special needs items like medications and baby formula, and a copy of your emergency plan.
3. Know what to do. In the event of a power outage, you should: Check to see if your neighbours’ power is still on to determine whether only your home is affected, turn off your appliances and turn the heating thermostat down to prevent potential power surge damage when power is restored, keep one light on inside and one on outside so you know when the power is back on, refrain from opening your refrigerator or freezer to keep food cold, don’t leave candles unattended, and never use charcoal or gas barbecues inside the home since they emit carbon monoxide.
4. Have some fun. Since your TV won’t be on and everyone will want to conserve the batteries in their phones, tablets and laptops, a blackout provides a rare opportunity to reconnect with each other. Dig out the board games, whip out the comfort food and rediscover family game night.
Learn more on how to be prepared for a power outage at Red Cross.