With the date of the winter solstice come and gone, many of those who live in the Northern Hemisphere are now bracing for another long, cold season of winter weather. Just as in years past, this winter is sure to include at least a few severe winter storms capable of creating lengthy power outages, as well as safety concerns and some serious discomfort for families caught in their midst. If your family resides in an area where winter weather is often accompanied by power outages, the following ideas can help you prepare your home to be safer and more comfortable even when ice, snow, or high winds cause inconvenient electrical power outages.
Stock the pantry with easy to prepare food and plenty of water
The first preparation that should be made when preparing your family to remain comfortable and healthy during a winter power outage is to stock the pantry for an emergency. To do this, make sure you have a suitable food, potable water, and an emergency cooking method, such as an outdoor BBQ grill to use on the deck or patio or cans of a gelled alcohol product that can be burned safely indoors to provide a small flame for heating food or water. For convenience, choose canned or packaged food items that can provide tasty nourishment without requiring anything more complicated than opening a can, box, or bag and reheating, if needed.
Canned chicken or tuna, jerky, crackers, dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter, canned soups, and stews are all foods that store and work well for emergency preparedness. Remember to also keep a supply of paper cups, bowls, plates, napkins, and cutlery, as well as a manual can opener alongside your emergency food supply to make preparing and serving foods as convenient as possible. In addition, you will need to make sure that you have enough potable water stored to supply each family member with at least one gallon per day to handled drinking and basic sanitation needs.
Outfit your home with an alternate heat source that works without electrical power
Most modern furnaces and heaters require electricity to either provide heat or to operate the blower to move air that has been heated by burning gas or oil. During a power outage, these heat sources will not be able to provide heat for your home, making it critical that you install some other type of heat source that will work reliably even when electrical power is not available. Wood stoves, fireplaces, or gas heaters that provide radiant heat are all good choices to explore. No matter which you choose, having a way to keep your family warm during winter power outages when the home's HVAC system cannot function is critical for your family's safety and comfort.
Have solar options to provide power for communications, lighting, and other needs
Being able to maintain communications with family and friends or call for emergency assistance, if needed, is critical during power outages , especially during winter weather when temperatures can fall far below freezing. To handle communication needs efficiently when the power is out, consider purchasing one or more small solar powered charging systems suitable for charging cell phones, laptops, and tablets during the daylight hours. Many of these units are inexpensive, easy to use, and small enough to store easily when not needed.
Another need during a power outage is basic lighting to enable family members to move around the home safely. A good option to provide this type of emergency lighting in a inexpensive manner is to use one or more battery operated outdoor night lights that use a small solar panel to recharge their batteries during daylight hours. If your home is large or you need more light than these small night lights can offer, a better option may be to install a few solar panels on the roof of your home, along with a small inverter system and battery bank. Depending on the size of the system you choose, solar panels can provide suitable power to pump water, run a microwave or small stove, or power a refrigerator, lights, or even a television or computer. To find out more about using solar panels for emergency electrical power in your home, search for a reputable online solar panel store, such as ML Solar, and review the different sizes, models, and prices currently available.