Power outage preparation
Most of us can take a short power outage in stride, resetting our clocks when the power comes back on, in the meanwhile going shopping, or going to the movies in a theater with a generator. What kind of power outage preparation will help us in a longer power outage, especially in the winter?
When your electricity goes out, you may not be able to use your stove at all, if it’s an electric stove or microwave. Lighting gas burners is easy with a match. But the oven has an electric fan to circulate the heat through the oven. Even a gas furnace uses electricity to push the heated air into the house. Gas fireplaces that are not controlled by electricity can be helpful. But when your house gets really cold, pipes may freeze and burst. Even when the power comes back on, give the pipes and the plumbing at least a day to warm up, so you don’t damage internal valves that might be vulnerable to freezing and expensive to repair.
First steps: get ready!
Conrad Novak at Survivor’s Fortress provides a very good and thorough guide for getting ready to survive a power outage. Here is his essential list:
- Create an emergency aid kit including a fully stocked first aid kit and a family emergency plan.
- Stock up on non-perishable food
- Invest in an alternative cooking option – propane, solar and charcoal are all options
- Know the techniques to stop food spoiling and keep a copy of food safety standards on hand.
- Stock up on hygiene products including hand sanitizer, baby wipes, diapers, and other products in the event the water shuts off.
- Prepare an alternative toilet option should you need it.
- Store extra blankets and sleeping bags for warmth.
- Buy battery-powered fans to keep cool.
- Consider buying a generator if necessary or contact a firm about hiring one out.
- Stock up on power banks for your mobile phone and keep them charged.
Scan all important documents and keep them on an external hard drive in a safe place.
- Buy flashlights and alternative light sources – headlamps, solar lamps, propane, and oil lamps are all options.
- Create an entertainment kit for kids including books, art supplies, and board games.
Click through to Survivor’s Fortress for Novak’s valuable advice for specific items on his list. Every tip requires forethought, so don’t leave preparation to the last minute before the power goes out.
During an outage
If the temperature is extreme during your power outage, whether freezing or hot, you may not have the option of traveling to find comfort. Service stations’ power may be off, too. So don’t let your fuel level get too low! Better to fill up several times at half-full than to run out of gas during an outage. Having appropriate clothing in an easy-to-find location can also make your time more comfortable. Those down coats and down sleeping bags may only get used during winter power outages, but they’ll keep you toasty for a while. But remember that it’s always easier to add clothing when it’s cold than to cool down quickly when the weather is hot.
You and your family are our first priority here at Woodlands Functional Family Medicine. Your power outage preparation should always include being aware of family members’ medications and health needs. Call 281-298-5476 to set up a televisit or an office visit if you have questions about specific things you should do to keep your family safe during a power outage. We are so easy to find and so easy to get to, near Interstate 45, Houston’s North Freeway. We look forward to seeing you soon!