How to Prepare for a Winter Power Outage

When the power goes out, everything stops. No more lights. No cooking. And you can’t even watch TV to while away the hours until the power comes back. But there are things you can do to prepare for what is likely an inevitable winter power outage.

Start Preparing Early

Power outages are difficult at any time of the year, but when it is cold outside, and you have no heat, it is hard on you and your house. So, when fall starts to turn to winter, storms become inevitable. Start your preparations for the inclement weather right away, and you will weather the storms in the best ways possible.

Here are some Essential Items to stock up on and tips for how to prepare for this winter.

Batteries – Replace Critical Batteries and Stock Up


That collection of old batteries will do you no good when the power goes out. Now is the time to check everything in the house that uses batteries. A battery tester can tell you if they need replacement, but if in doubt, send them off to the recycler and get new ones. A new replacement set of batteries in every device, and an extra, is the safest option to weather the storm.

Make sure all your rechargeable items are charged up all the time (Especially your eReader!) with spare batteries ready for flashlights, radios and smoke detectors, clocks, and anything else that runs on a battery backup.

Check Those Radios and Flashlights

Make sure all your flashlights and portable radios work. Make sure you put them in different areas throughout your home. Purchase replacements or extras if necessary. Flashlights are safer than candles, but if you need to supplement, use a candle for a short time. A battery-powered radio keeps you connected to the emergency system.  And it makes sure you receive evacuation alerts because the TV doesn’t work without power.

Fill Up Your Tank with Gas

If you know a storm coming, always fill up your gas tank. The gas station pumps all run on electricity, so gasoline is not available when the power is out. Don’t get stranded with an empty tank!

Get a Car Charger for Your Phone

It’s likely that you already have a phone charger in your car, but if not, make sure you get one if the power might go out. That way, you can charge your mobile devices in your car, even when you can’t charge them in the house. If the power goes out over an extended period of time, you’ll want a way to top up your phone, tablet, and eReader, so you stay connected and have something to do.

Get an Old-Fashioned Phone That Doesn’t Need Electricity

If there is a landline in your home, keep an old-style corded phone in a cupboard where you can grab it in case of a power outage. If your regular phone plugs into the wall outlet, it needs electricity to work. So, no power means no phone! A usable landline helps conserve your cellphone battery and makes sure someone could call in.

How Will You Stay Warm?

Think about how you will stay warm when the power goes out. Your gas furnace needs electricity to run the fan to send the warm air throughout the house in the vents. An electric furnace obviously needs power, too. Electric baseboards won’t work with no power. If there is a gas fireplace in your home, consider a battery backup for the electric starter if it didn’t come with one. Stock up on firewood if you have a wood stove or wood-burning fireplace. NEVER use a propane heater inside the house unless it was designed to be used indoors. A carbon monoxide detector keeps you safe. Carbon monoxide builds up and creates a deadly hazard.

If you Have a Well – Stock Up on Bottled Water


If you live in a place with a municipal water supply, you will still have water during a power outage. But if you use a well for your water, your pump needs electricity to bring the water into the house. So, when a winter storm is on the horizon, top up your supply of drinking water. You can also fill up the bathtubs and the washing machine, so you have water to wash and flush the toilets.

Plan Your Meals

How will you prepare your food with no electricity? With gas appliances, you can light them with a lighter or match when the power is out. But if your stovetop and oven are electric, you need to find another solution. If you have an outdoor propane BBQ grill, that’s a great alternative. A portable camping propane cooking stove will also work. Just make sure you cook outside, so you’ll need to make a place that is stormproof! Add some canned items that could be okay at room temperature, like fruit, baked beans, and pickles. And then make sure you also have the manual can opener to get at the food inside!

If the power outage runs over several days, you could end up with no fresh food, and cooking anything gets to be more of a chore. Now is the time to stock up on the nonperishable treats like nut butter, crackers, juice, and granola bars to make sure you have something to eat.

Lower the Temperature in the Fridge and Freezer

Before the storm hits, reduce the temperature in both the fridge and freezer. Then when the power goes out, they both will stay colder longer, which makes it more likely your food will weather the storm. Move your perishables like meat and milk into the freezer, so they stay cooler. Put anything you feel you may need access to in one place and know exactly where it is. That way, you can avoid opening the fridge door as much as possible, which keeps the cold air in.

Protect the Pipes

If the power outage goes on for any length of time, your pipes could freeze and then burst. Especially if they don’t have sufficient insulation. If you think your pipes could freeze, close the main water valve in the house and turn on all faucets to let the water run until the pipes empty.

Final Tips

Prepare early, so you’re not scrambling when you get the news that the storm is on its way. Planning is really the key to making it through a winter power outage. Spend some time preparing, and you will weather the storm just fine!

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