A massive snowstorm hits and knocks out the power. The lights go dark, the TV shuts off, and the heater to your home quits working. Slowly, it starts to get less and less warm and then a little chilly.
Outside, the snow is falling hard and the wind is howling. It doesn’t let up. You notice the snow starts to pile up against your windows. The temperature in your home starts to decrease rapidly now.
You try to get in contact with other people you know, but the internet and cell service are disconnected and you can’t get in touch with anyone.
It now starts to dawn upon you: you’re in the middle of a winter-time blackout, and you may be stuck in your home for a long time.
So, what’s the very first thing you should do?
The First Thing to Do When a Winter Blackout Occurs
The very first thing you need to do when a power blackout from a winter blizzard has occurred is probably not what you initially expected.
Should you start to get your wood stove going? Take inventory of your food and supplies? Pull out blankets and sleeping bags?
Those things are important, but those are not the first things you should do either.
Rather, the very first thing that you should do in a winter blackout is to unplug all of your electronics and appliances.
The reason for this is simple: the moment the power comes back on in a few days or weeks, the chances are very strong that the electrical system to your home will oversurge and damage any devices or appliances that you have plugged in.
The only way to protect those devices and appliances from that happening is to unplug them.
Examples of the devices and appliances that you’ll want to make sure you unplug include:
- Video Game Consoles
- Washing and Drying Machines
- Stove and Oven
Since the power is out, all of those above appliances and items are going to be useless to you anyway. Wait until the power has turned back on for a few hours before you plug everything back in.
If you fail to unplug the above items, the chances of them becoming damaged or rendered inoperable from an electrical surge when the power comes back on is too high (and expensive) of a risk to ignore. That’s why this should be the first action you take when the power goes out from the winter snow storm.
Steps to Take Before a Winter Blackout
There are also a number of important steps that you would be wise to take before a winter blackout has even occurred in the first place:
Insulate Your Home For Winter
There are several actions that you can take to adequately insulate your home for winter and the chances of a blizzard that comes with it in the first place:
- Insulate your pipes to stop them from freezing during a blizzard. This will also reduce the odds of the pipes bursting.
- Insulate your doors and windows to prevent heat from escaping your home. You can use window film for the windows, and weather strips and door sweeps for the doors to prevent heat from escaping.
- Insulate your attic. Even with the doors and windows insulated, a lot of heat can still escape through your uninsulated attic roof.
Have an Alternative Heat Source
It’s very important to have an alternative source of heat in the event your power shuts off for an extended period.
Regardless of how well you insulate your home, once your power and heat source shuts off the temperature in your home is going to decrease rapidly and it’s vital to have a backup option.
The classic option is a wood stove, which is very easy to use and maintain. Make sure you have at least a two week’s supply of firewood on hand, in addition to kindling and a variety of reliable fire starting materials.
Have a Two Week’s Supply of Food and Water
At the bare minimum, you should have a two week’s supply of food and water in your home.
Make sure that the food can be prepared without the aid of modern day appliances. This is another reason why having a wood stove is so important, because you can safely cook meals indoors.
Make Sure Your Electronics Are Fully Charged
It’s wise to make it a habit to ensure that your electronic devices, like your laptop or tablet or phone, are always kept fully charged. You never know when a power outage will occur that precludes you from recharging those devices.
Additionally, consider investing in external battery packs and make sure that those packs are always fully charged as well. Other than a solar charger (which may not work during a winter blizzard anyway), external battery packs are virtually the only available option to keep your devices charged without power. I’d have multiple fully charged battery packs on hand since you never know how long the power outage will last.
Winter blackouts can be outlasted with the proper preparations. Just make sure to always unplug your electronics and appliances first as soon as you realize that you’re in for an extended time without power. You’ll be in for a nasty (and costly) surprise if you don’t.
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