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As Arctic Blast Looms, Prepare Yourself For Power, Heat Outages
As Arctic Blast Looms, Prepare Yourself For Power, Heat Outages
Jul 19, 2024 11:41 PM

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With nearly 50 million Americans under some kind of winter weather alert ahead of , followed by a potentially record-setting blast of arctic air, now is the time to prepare for potential power and heat outages.

Gerri is expected to spread snow, rain, high winds and severe weather across the country. Weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman warns, “The concern is when that snow starts, it’s going to come quickly, possibly at the rate of an inch an hour or more.”

(MORE: Winter Storm Gerri Will Bring Another Round Of Snow, Wind From The West To Midwest, Northeast)

Add howling winds into the equation, and it’s a recipe for falling trees and downed power lines, not to mention the flash flood risk in areas already saturated by Winter Storm Finn.

If you live in the South, the on its way may be sparking fears of a repeat of last year’s that knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of residents.

If your electricity powers your heat there’s additional concern an outage could lead to frozen pipes and overall home damage. That’s why it’s incredibly important to be prepared for power and heat outages this winter — and know what to do when one occurs.

Before An Outage

*Put together an .

*Make sure you’re . Download The Weather Channel app and customize your experience for accurate and timely information.

*Make an evacuation plan and find out where the local heating shelters in your area are located.

*Buy lanterns and/or flashlights.

(MORE: Arrival Times Of Gerri In Your Area)

*Refill heating fuel, oil or propane if you have heating equipment (or emergency heating equipment).

*If you have a , stock up on wood and matches.

*Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, pet food, diapers, battery-pack phone chargers and flashlight batteries.

* to help keep track of the temperature in your freezer and always know whether frozen food is still safe to eat.

A coin on top of a frozen cup of water can help you tell how long your power was out.

(Jan Childs/weather.com)

*Consider buying a power generator. You can get one for the whole house, or get a back-up portable generator.

*Wrap any exposed pipes with insulation.

*Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.

*If your water supply could be affected in a power outage (say if you have a well-water pump system), fill your bathtub for sanitation purposes and fill spare containers with enough drinking water for the whole family.

*Set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting.

(MORE: A Guide For Keeping Your Pets Safe In Winter)

*Make sure your home is properly insulated. Now is the time to caulk or weather-strip windows and doors.

*Have your fireplace and chimney cleaned, and get any other secondary heaters (such as pellet or gas stoves) serviced at the beginning of winter to make sure they’re in good, working condition to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

*If someone in your home relies on electric medical equipment, register with your local power company and/or community emergency program.

*Buy enough warm blankets for the whole family.

*Buy a battery-operated or hand-cranked radio to listen for storm updates.

D​uring An Outage

*Make sure the outage goes beyond your home by checking to see if your neighbors have lights on. Then report the outage to your electric company.

*Keep doors and windows closed, put towels in front of any drafts.

*Layer your clothes to stay warm, put on a hat, cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs and put on mittens (they’re better than gloves). Huddle under extra blankets.

(MORE: Arctic Cold Outbreak Could Smash Records From Montana To The Gulf Coast)

*Know the signs of frostbite — loss of feeling and color in fingers, earlobes and the tip of the nose — and call 911 if someone has these symptoms.

*Know the signs of hypothermia — uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness — and call 911 if someone shows these symptoms.

*Follow these instructions instructions if you spot a frozen pipe in your home.

*Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer unless necessary. Food can stay frozen 24-36 hours. You can use snow drifts as a makeshift freezer, but be aware of attracting animals.

*Listen to the news — don’t go outside if conditions are unsafe.

(MORE: Winter Storms 101: How To Prepare For Snow, Ice)

*Preserve your phone battery and opt to text instead of call to keep your phone lines open.

*Unplug appliances and electronics to avoid a possible, damaging power surge when the power comes on.

*Leave one lamp on so you’ll easily know when power comes back.

*Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from any window or door.

*Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.

*If you use candles to light the room, never leave them unattended and keep them away from pets and children.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, .

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