The following are tips for preparing for winter storms:
Know the difference between a storm watch and warning. A watch means conditions are possible in the specified area within 36 hours. A warning means severe weather conditions have been reported by spotters or radar and are expected in the area within 24 hours.
Have an emergency kit easily accessible on the ground level of the home or business, with any needs the family and any pets should have. In addition to food and water, it should include a flashlight, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a whistle to signal for help, and an assortment of hand tools.
If someone in the home is dependent on electricity for life-sustaining medical equipment, review the plan to access back-up power or make arrangements to relocate when storm warnings are issued.
Have a backup power plan. Batteries and portable chargers can’t power a refrigerator, portable heaters or lights.
When the power goes out in winter, this opens up a home to freezing temperatures, which can damage pipes and cause hazardous living conditions for the residents.
Use a sizing calculator when shopping for a portable generator. If a generator is already in place, run it now to ensure it will work in an emergency, and perform any scheduled maintenance.
Generators must be run outdoors, far from home entrances. A portable generator gives off carbon monoxide which is odorless, colorless, and deadly. It should be operated outside far away from windows, vents, and doors so fumes do not enter the residence. The generator also requires a dry area, protected from exposure to rain and snow, eliminating garages, basements, crawl spaces or sheds.
Be aware of the manufacturer’s rating on the electric load of a generator in use, and don’t overload it. Turn appliances on one at a time.
The greater the load on a generator, the more fuel it will use. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down. It may be uncomfortable dealing without power temporarily, but fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.
If extension cords are needed, be sure they are grounded and the appropriate gauge size. Coiled cords can get extremely hot, so lay out cords in flat, open locations that will not cause a tripping hazard in dim lighting.