What Should You Do During a Winter Power Outage?
During the winter months, there are many weather-related events such as snow, ice, and wind that can cause a power outage. If the outage is caused by the weather, the outage could either be localized or in some cases wide-spread.
Should you lose power, the first thing to check is your home’s electrical panel to see if you have blown a circuit. If the power is out in your entire neighborhood, you should call your local utility company to report the outage. If the power is out over a more widespread area, it may in fact take a longer time to restore power everywhere.
Here are some valuable tips to remember if you lose power in the winter:
In the daytime, use the warming rays of the sun to keep you comfortable. Open the draperies to get the warmth into your home. Sit out in the sun in a spot away from any wind. You’ll be surprised how quickly you heat up.
Choose a small, well-insulated room within your home that contains the fewest windows as your temporary emergency living quarters. Block this room off by placing cardboard and blankets over the windows at night to minimize heat loss.
Wrap yourself up in warm clothing. Put on several thin layers instead of one or two big bulky garments. Thermal underwear is a good choice. Don’t forget to wear a hat. As much as 80% of a person’s body heat can be lost without one.
The body burns food to produce calories, which in turn keeps you warm. Open those cans of food that need no cooking and make sure everyone eats something.
If the power is out for less than 4 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. When the power is out the most important thing to remember is to keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed!
- A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. Place pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs into a styrofoam coolers surrounded by ice.
- A full freezer will keep temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full). If your freezer is not full, group packages so they form an igloo-like shape to protect each other. And, place food items that begin thawing to one side or on a tray so that their juices won’t get onto other foods.
- If the power is expected to be out for an extended period of time, the best advice to buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible.
Do not attempt to operate portable generators or any other fuel burning appliances that were specifically designed for outdoor use indoors – including in your basement and garage. This can become very dangerous as it creates carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion and could kill.
Stove or Fireplace
If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can utilize it for heat. However, do not use kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any other outdoor type of heater designed for outdoor use inside. Such devices, like generators, used indoors can create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide.
Nowadays many people have the higher efficiency 90%+ furnaces that create condensation when they run. Make sure that the venting from that furnace is kept clear of ice and snow. Check to see where the condensate is draining to. If it drains into a sink or sump pump there should not normally be a problem. If it drains into a small pump which in turn pumps that water to the outside of your home you want to make sure that the end of that pipe remains clear from ice and snow. Ice can form due to low outdoor temperatures as well as added wind. A blocked condensate line will cause your heater to shut down when the power is re-established. If you have a heat pump you may wish to shut it off at the thermostat until power is re-established to help avoid extra load on the power circuit when everything comes back on.
When dealing with power outages as long as it is for only a couple of hours there shouldn’t be anything that you would have to do. You will able to have hot water for a few hours as long as you don’t use it for any reason. Each time you open your faucet in a mixed position (handle pointing to the middle) you are adding cold water to the water heater causing the temperature in the tank to drop. If you turn the handle to the right you don’t flow water through the tank therefore the temperatures will hold longer.
In extreme low outdoor temperatures, and you know that your home will not have any electric or heat for an extended period of time (2-3 days) then you should:
- Shut the main water valve off to your home.
- Open the faucets slightly at all locations inside the home to allow the water to drain.
- Shut off the breaker to the water heater (if electric).
- Shut the gas off at the water heater (if gas).
If you have to venture out, remember to drive carefully. Be alert as some traffic signals may be out during a power outage. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.
Contact Horizon Services
When power is fully restored to your home and you discover issues with your heater, water heater, and/or plumbing please call us to schedule an appointment. And, if you are ready to install or replace a heating and air conditioning system our friendly and experienced team of Comfort Specialists can help. They’ll take the time to study your home, understand your requirements, show you all of your options and assist you with finding the quality home comfort system that best meets your family’s needs and budget.
Additional Information from Horizon Services…
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- Save Money and Extend Equipment Life With Yearly Maintenance
- Extend the Life of Your HVAC Equipment with Proper Maintenance
- How do I Know Which HVAC System is Right for my Home?
- Is Your Home Suffering from Hot Flashes?