Winter can be a magical time of year: beautiful snowfalls, covering everything in hushed white, snuggling down with a cup of hot cocoa and preparing for our favorite holidays. But winter can also be brutal with fierce winds and deadly storms that cause property damage and take out the power. An outage in wintertime can be deadly for those who are unprepared.
Power outages can last a long time
As more power companies bury their power lines, outages are becoming less frequent. But storms can still take out major transmitting lines and stations which means that a single power outage today will impact more homes and take longer to repair than in the past. Now is the time to prepare for a winter outage.
Start by eliminating heat loss in your home. Newer homes will likely be well-insulated and have decent windows. If you have an older home, you may want to seal drafty windows with plastic sheeting or a window kit. Many utility companies will do a free home inspection and give you a report on where you have energy leaks and how to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
One of the most tragic causes of winter-time deaths is carbon monoxide poisoning, because it is so preventable. Have your furnace inspected and tuned up by a professional. Replace filters. Make sure you have fresh batteries in both your CO and smoke detectors and test to make sure they are functioning.
Once you have your home heating and energy running at peak efficiency, consider what alternate sources of heating and energy you may want to use in case of an outage. Is a generator your best choice? Most experts agree that the cheapest, easiest and safest heat source is a compact propane heater. It should be a style (like Mr. Heater) that uses a 1-lb propane canister. Larger canisters may require venting to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
And you’ll want a hot meal
If you have the room and budget for it, a small wood-burning stove will provide axillary heat as well as hot meals during an outage. A wood stove isn’t the only way to serve hot meals during an outage. The Volcano Stove uses three different kinds of fuel to quickly heat up water or small meals: propane, charcoal or wood. The Kelly Kettle uses any natural solid fuel (wood, pine cones, charcoal, etc), is compact and can boil water in 3-5 minutes, so you can have hot soup and cocoa with very little fuel or fuss.
Prepare now to have a warm and safe winter.