The calendar has flipped. We have successfully survived the holiday madness and we are now entering into the full power of the New Year! While the majority of the country has been bundled up for a long time already, this is the time of year when the winter really sinks in. We start to notice the “polar vortex” as they become more and more frequent. Last year the United States had one of the coldest winters in almost 50 years. Many portions of the US, especially the Great Lakes region, felt the wrath of winter unlike anyone else. It was around this time last year that we were introduced to the term polar vortex and we soon realized that the words meant extreme cold. In fact, places like Chicago and even New York saw first hand that the prolonged cold weather leads to continuous power consumption. While the average person was struggling to keep the house warm the power companies were struggling to keep the grid going.
The power grid of the United States has long been a concern for many people. We have heard countless stories about how the grid is vulnerable to terror attacks and how the grid could be rendered useless if an EMP where to go off. I am not sure how solid the power grid. But I have learned that where there is smoke there is typically a fire of some kind. There has been enough talk and enough speculation that there has to be something to the whole power grid failure idea. And yet the only times that we really give it a lot of thought is when the weather turns extremely hot or extremely cold. For most parts of the country this is only a few weeks throughout the year. However the winter does present several serious issues that you need to at least be prepared for.
Power outages during the winter are not uncommon. In fact the most common cause of these outages are falling limbs and trees that have succumbed to the weight of snow or ice. These are common problems to experience in the winter. In the south, my home, ice is the biggest culprit in the winter. However the biggest problem is the power being shut off. When the temperatures are hovering around freezing…or colder, and the power is off, it makes for a very uncomfortable night. If the power fails in your home this winter you can be prepared. Sure, you are not going to be as comfortable as you would otherwise but there are things you can do to be prepared now.
The most obvious thing to do is to make sure that you have plenty of blankets. Blankets are not only going to be good for covering up and making sure you stay warm but they will also make great bedding. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a power outage then you need to understand how important it is that you isolate yourself in one room of the house. It might not be the best memory you ever have but it will make staying warm a lot easier. While you need blankets to stay warm you might also want to think about having a few rolls of black plastic or maybe even a few tarps. The idea is to use this material to close off any doors in your house. In my home we would all gather in the family room and the 2 entrances into that room would be covered with plastic. This will help hold in the heat from the bodies.
There is also another option for us. We have a fireplace in our family room that operates off of propane. While this fireplace will not heat the whole house it will totally heat our family room. If the doors are sealed off and the fire is going, it can get very toasty in there. The thing to keep in mind is that your doors and windows will be the most likely place that cold air can seep into your home. Seal these areas first and you will be able to better warm your home and family.
During power outages you will also need to make sure that you have plenty of drinkable water and some food. In most cases the power is off for a short period of time but it is not unheard of for the power to be off for as long as a week. Having blankets, water, and plenty of food will make a huge difference in your comfort level. You can be prepared for the possibility of power failure. You can be prepared for almost any issues. The main thing to do is to think outside the box and try to think of the worst-case scenario. These rarely happen. As long as you are prepared for the worst…you will typically be just fine.
What are you doing to prepare for power outages this winter?