Surviving a Blackout: 15 Tips & Tricks for Weathering the Storm

Imagine this: You’re wrapped up in a blanket, watching the snow gently fall outside, when suddenly – bam! The house goes dark. The serene snowscape outside has brought with it a less welcome companion: a power outage.

A winter wonderland quickly turns into a chilling predicament. As the temperature outside drops, so does the comfort of your now unpowered home. This scenario isn’t just inconvenient; it can be downright dangerous if you’re not prepared.

When a snowstorm knocks out your power, the game plan changes. It’s not just about light, but also warmth, safety, and resource management.

How do you stay safe, warm, and somewhat comfortable until power is restored? Here are some essential tips for navigating a snowstorm-induced blackout, ensuring you and your loved ones can weather the storm both safely and comfortably.

1. Circuit Breaker Caution

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Checking your circuit breaker is a natural first step, but handle with care. Look for any visible damage, but avoid direct contact to prevent potential hazards.

If the problem isn’t at the breaker, glance at the service wires outside – if they’re down or damaged, it’s time to alert your electric company.

2. Unplug to Protect

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Electrical surges post-blackout can fry your electronics.

Unplug appliances like your computer, TV, and microwave to shield them from damage. However, leave one lamp plugged in and turned on so you’ll know when power returns.

3. Fridge & Freezer Savvy

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Your fridge is a temporary safe haven for your food – but only if you keep it shut. A closed fridge can hold the cold for about four hours, and a well-stocked freezer can last up to 48 hours.

Pro tip: Fill empty spaces in your freezer with water bottles for an extra chill.

4. Flashlights over Candles

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Candles might add ambiance, but they’re a fire hazard. Flashlights are safer and more reliable.

Regularly check their batteries to ensure they’re ready when you need them.

5. Carbon Monoxide Awareness

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If you’re heating your home with a fireplace or gas stove, carbon monoxide is a silent risk. Keep a battery-powered CO2 detector on hand to monitor levels and ensure your safety.

6. Gas Up In Advance

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A full gas tank in your car can be a lifesaver during extended blackouts. Gas stations may be closed, so fill up before a storm.

Storing extra gasoline safely can also be a wise precaution.

7. Gate Access Knowledge

Know how to manually operate electronic security gates in your community. In a blackout, these gates might not function, so learning their manual override system can be crucial for a quick exit.

8. Conserve Your Phone Battery

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Your phone is a vital tool during a blackout. Avoid draining its battery on non-essential activities. Instead, dim the screen and close unused apps to extend its life.

9. Be Shower-Smart

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If you have a tank-style water heater, you’re in luck – but be quick. Hot water is limited, so take short showers. And remember, during a storm, it’s safer to wait until the weather clears.

10. Respect the Road

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Traffic rules still apply, even when signals are down. Treat inoperative traffic lights as four-way yields and proceed with caution to ensure safety for everyone on the road.

11. Cash Is Essential

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In a blackout, cash is king. ATMs and credit card machines won’t work, so having cash on hand is crucial for purchasing necessities or in case of evacuation.

12. Prevent Pipe Freezing

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In cold weather, unprotected pipes can freeze and burst. Insulate any exposed pipes and keep a slight trickle of water flowing to prevent freezing.

13. Steer Clear of Water Puddles

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Pooling water post-storm can be deceivingly dangerous. It might conceal electrical hazards or debris.

Wait until authorities declare it safe before exploring these areas.

14. Grill Outdoors Only

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Cooking during a blackout? Remember, indoor grilling can be deadly due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep grills outside for safe cooking.

15. Generator Safety

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Generators are great for backup power, but they need to be used safely. Keep them at least 20 feet from your home and never in enclosed spaces to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.

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Following these tips can make a significant difference in how you handle a power outage. Whether it’s a brief flicker or a prolonged blackout, being prepared and aware can help you navigate the situation with ease and safety.

Remember, knowledge and preparation are key. By understanding what to do – and what not to do – during a power outage, you’re equipping yourself and your loved ones with the tools needed to stay safe, comfortable, and ready for whatever comes your way.

Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to face any power outage with confidence and calm. Stay safe, stay informed, and let’s all help each other through the dark times – literally!

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.