Dear Rich Lifer,
Millions of Americans have experienced power outages this week after a winter storm brought snow, ice, blackouts and low-temperatures to many parts of the U.S.
According to the snow analysis report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nearly 75% of the lower 48 states of the U.S. were under snow cover.
Cold wind chills from the Arctic air are expected to continue in the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley through midweek, the National Weather Service said. Additionally, a new storm is emerging in the Southern Pains, which will head toward the mid-south this week.
All of this winter weather has brought devastation throughout the country; and according to the Associated Press, 20 people have died.
Power outages have been another huge problem. PowerOutage.US. reports that 3.4 million customers across American are without electricity — 3 million of these outages alone are in Texas.
Rolling blackouts have also been instituted in multiple states to avoid a full electric grid overload.
These outages can be incredibly dangerous and scary situations, leaving people stranded without heat or power. So today, we wanted to go through some guidelines about how to prepare for a power outage and tips for what to do if you find yourself affected by this ongoing winter weather.
Prepare In Advance
As we have seen this week, power outages have the ability to affect large communities resulting in anything from disrupting communication, access to water and transportation, forcing the closure of businesses including grocery stores, gas stations and ATMs, prevent the use of medical devices, and cause food to spoil.
The best way to combat a dangerous power outage is to prepare for all these scenarios in advance. Here’s how to do so, according to The Red Cross:
Create a support network of people who could either assist you during a prolonged stay at home or help you evacuate during an emergency. Make a paper list of these people’s contact info so you can access it without the use of any technology.
Stay connected and alert by signing up for emergency alert systems and apps for text alerts. You should also have communication devices that work without power, such as a crank or battery radio, a non-cordless home phone, and chargers/batteries for your cell phones and computers. Make sure you have current surge protectors for household electronics.
Stock up on non-perishable goods and water supplies for at least two weeks. You should plan to use coolers and ice to extend food refrigeration. Keep a thermometer handy to monitor food temperatures to avoid eating anything spoiled.
Plan for your personal and medical electric needs. Take stock of the things you need that use electricity and consider non-power alternatives for lighting, communication, medical devices and refrigerated medicine, cooking, garage doors, locks and elevators. If you have serious medical needs, discuss a plan with your doctor or medical device provider.
Plan to heat or cool your home. Insulate the areas around your windows to keep the hot or cold air out. If you can, make a plan to go somewhere with heat or air conditioning depending on the time of year. And remember, never use a generator, outdoor stoves or heaters indoors.
Install smoke and carbon dioxide alarms. You should have a smoke alarm with battery backup and a carbon monoxide tester on every floor of your home. Test both monthly to make sure they are working.
Plan for evacuation. Decide how and when you would evacuate safely without sacrificing medical needs. Keep your tank of gas at least half full in the event of an evacuation.
What To Do During An Outage
Now that you are set with your preparation, here are some important guidelines to follow for maintaining safety during an actual outage.
Monitor alerts such as weather reports and other emergency announcements on your phone, television or radio, whatever you have access to. If you’ve prepared and signed up for local alerts, you should get them through your phone.
Contact your network to give updates on how you are doing and check-in to see if anyone else on your emergency list needs assistance.
Be smart about your food. Eat any fresh, perishable foods first and avoid opening your fridge or freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use your backup coolers with ice to prolong your goods. When in doubt, throw out your food rather than risk getting sick.
Prevent power overloads and fire hazards by unplugging appliances and electronics. Use flashlights rather than candles. Only turn off your utilities if you are instructed to do so by local officials or if you suspect damage.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by refraining from using a gas stove to heat your home. Do not use outdoor stoves indoors for heating or cooking, and if you have a generator, keep it outside in a well-ventilated area.
Decide if you need to evacuate if your home becomes too hot or too cold or if you have medical devices that need power. Check with your local officials for locations of cooling or warming centers, and if you do go to a center, follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Safety After An Outage
Risks to health and safety don’t stop as soon as the power ends.
Keep away from power lines if they have fallen and avoid anything they are touching.
Avoid electric shock by staying away from flooded areas. Refrain from using any type of electrical equipment that may have been submerged in water. When in doubt, have a qualified electrician check your electrical system.
The same “when it doubt, throw it out” rule applies for any food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees — especially meats and dairy products. Ask your provider about refrigerated medicines.
Finally, continue to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by keeping generators, camp stoves and charcoal grills outdoors only in well-ventilated areas at least 20 feet away from windows.
Experiencing a power outage can be a scary experience, but if you follow these guidelines, you can stay safe and as comfortable as possible.
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team