Living in the south, we rarely experience really bad snow storms never mind ice storms. This week is a bit different however. Here in the southeast we are bracing ourselves for an ice storm.
Power companies all over the southeast have already begun sending highly-trained employees out before the storm arrives and enlisting the help of others. While southerners are smart to head out on what is called “milk and bread runs,” there are several things you should do to get ready for an ice storm. Take it from this gal originally from Massachusetts and the wife of an electrical engineer with over 20 years experience in storms.
Before a Power Outage
The following list should be consider your “emergency supply kit.”
- Fill up your automobiles with gas and have cash on hand (if you lose power you can’t pump gas and can’t pay for things with a credit card).
- Fully charge your cell phones and other electronics.
- Generators are worth every penny. Never run a generator inside a home or garage, they produce potentially deadly carbon-monoxide fumes. Always keep running generators in an open and ventilated area. Also, do not directly connect the generator to your home’s wiring. Plug all necessary appliances directly into the generator. When a generator is connected to a home’s wiring, it can create a “back feed” into utility lines which can injure or kill anyone who is working to restore the power.
- Check if you need to refill or buy a first aid kit. Keep one in your home and one in your car. Also keep blankets in your car if you absolutely have to travel.
- Have plenty of fresh batteries, working flashlights, candles and blankets on hand. Flashlights are obviously safer than candles.
- Purchase a battery-powered radio. When access to television isn’t possible, invest in a battery-powered radio to stay alert of any evacuation orders or status updates on the power outage.
- Stock up on essentials like bottled water, bread, milk, etc before the grocery shelves are empty.
- Clean your bathtub(s) and fill your tubs with water for sponge baths and flushing toilets. Watch small children around tubs filled with water. While you’re at it fill pots of water as well.
- Have plenty of cash on hand in case stores can’t take credit cards.
- Turn your thermostat up a bit in hopes of keeping your home warm for as long as possible.
- It can be expensive but well worth it. If the heat goes out, put a large pot of water on the gas stove, heat it up and use as a mini radiator. Set a timer, watch it and keep filling it. Keep your local firemen safely inside their fire stations by being careful. Also expensive, but sometimes necessary, gas fireplaces can be a blessing when the heat goes out.
- Get all of your laundry done beofre the storm hits.
- Before the storm: Trim tree branches in your yard. Cutting down hanging limbs will help decrease the chances your power will be cut by a fallen tree limbs.
- Reusable heat packs for your hands.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. Lowering the temperature before you lose power will allow the refrigerator to keep acceptable temperatures for food longer. Eat perishable foods first, conserving canned or other non-perishable items for the possibility of a long-term outage.
- Have plenty of blankets avaialbe and wear several layers as needed to keep warm.
- Have plenty of fun board games on hand.
During a Power Outage
- Keep your pipes from freezing by allowing a small stream of water to run from faucets. The American Red Cross advises this action and says, “Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.”
- To maintain the refrigerated and frozen foods, keep fridge and freezer openings to a minimum. By not opening the door, you can keep the temperature lower for a longer period of time. Make a conscious effort before you open the fridge/freezer to plan what you will take out and close the door quickly. To increase the effectiveness of your powerless fridge, you can fill plastic containers with cold water and place inside the appliance. Not only does this increase your emergency water supply, it also helps keep the air cool inside the fridge to slow the spoilage of your food.
- Unplug all appliances and leave only one light switched on. There is an added risk of power surges occurring that can destroy your appliances. Leave one light on in your home so you know when the power has returned
Stay safe everyone!