Last weekend, Kansas City was slammed with snow. Local meteorologists predicted 5″ but we actually ended up getting closer to a foot. Tons of branches broke under the weight of the snow and plenty of trees fell, too. One actually knocked off a transformer when it fell and caught on fire in the field beside our house! There were tons of downed lines which left more than 150,000 residents without electricity.
After 50 hours passed and our power finally came back on, I thought it might be helpful to make a checklist for others to refer to if they know a snowstorm or other winter event likely to cause power outages is heading their way. Lucky for me, I married an Eagle Scout. My husband is always prepared. But for those of you on your own or new to severe winter climates, here are some suggestions to keep you as comfortable and safe as possible until everything we take for granted is back up and running.
MAKE A POWER OUTAGE SURVIVAL KIT
I’m not one for stowing away boxes of crap “in case of an emergency,” but there are things you will want to have handy when an emergency hits. If you want to go ahead put these items together in one central location like a pantry, closet or unused storage tub, go for it. But for everyone else, just know the whereabouts of these important items so you don’t find yourself searching for them in the dark when it matters most.
- Nonperishable foods
- Hand warmers
- Battery-operated, solar-powered or hand-crank radio
- First-aid kit
- Candles with a lighter or matches
- Boredom busters like board games, cards, puzzle books
- Firewood if you have a fireplace
- Teapot or some other vessel to boil water over a fire
PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR AN OUTAGE
If you are a homeowner, you may consider purchasing the following items which will come in handy during power outages.
- A generator
- Carbon monoxide alarms
- Landline with a corded phone or a satellite phone
- Tree trimming service to take care of dead branches before Mother Nature does
- A kerosene lamp with oil
- Ham radio setup
- Solar battery chargers
- Chemical light sticks
PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE
In case of an emergency where the need to travel arises, you will want to be sure your car has everything you need to get safely where you’re going. Make sure your gas tank is full and consider packing the following items into a winter basket to keep in your trunk:
- A small plastic snow shovel
- Sand, kitty litter or de-icer
- Jumper cables
- De-icer for windshields (you can make this yourself using 3 parts vinegar or rubbing alcohol to 1 part water)
- A warm change of clothes
- Non-perishable foods
DURING THE OUTAGE
- Prevent food from spoiling by keeping your refrigerator and freezer closed. You don’t want the temperature to rise above 40° Fahrenheit. If you have to get something out of the fridge, shut the door as fast as possible.
- Unplug cords from outlets to prevent power surges.
- Check on your
neighbors, especially the disabled, elderly and young children
- Turn off your main water supply to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting
- Use blankets or towels to block door and window drafts
- Wear layers including a hat, socks and blankets to keep warm
- Share body heat by cuddling with your animals and loved ones
Bad weather happens – especially in the winter, so we should always expect the unexpected. There’s no excuse not to be prepared. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor by discussing survival plans and making sure you’re stocked up with whatever you need.
Has your home gone more than 48 hours without electricity? Leave a comment below sharing any tips or tricks we missed. And most importantly: keep warm!