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The Winter Back-Up Plan for Electric Outages

February 17, 2015
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The winter season can bring snowstorms, freezing temperatures and even power outages from fallen power lines. February of 2014 was a harshly cold month – in fact, the Philadelphia area experienced its worst power outage in the city’s history when over 600,000 customers were without power due to a winter storm.

When it comes to winter and the harsh cold, it’s always good to have a winter storm back-up plan. Here are some helpful tips for when you find yourself left in the dark:

Before an Outage:

Tip #1: Before a storm hits your area, make sure all your flashlights have working batteries. Also, having a battery-powered radio is important. If the power goes out, you will still be able to get important weather information.

Tip #2: Have an alternative source of heating. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to stock up on firewood. Other alternative heating sources include a gas burning fireplace or wood burning stove. When using these heating sources, be sure the heating area is well-ventilated.

Tip #3: To avoid freezing pipes, let your faucets drip a little.

Tip #4: If your water runs on electricity – which is often the case with well water – fill up your bathtubs for water sanitation use. Also, be sure to fill up clean containers with water for drinking.

Tip #5: Make sure your car has gas. Many gas stations run on electricity and you don’t want to get stuck, especially in the case of an emergency.

During an Outage:

Tip #1: Call your utility company to report the outage. Don’t call 911, unless there is a life-threatening emergency.

Tip #2: If you have friends or family living nearby, take the time to check on them.

Tip #3: Put on layers. If your heating goes out, be sure to dress accordingly.

Tip #4: If you run out of water, you can melt snow for an additional water source.

Tip #5: Be sure to leave at least one light on so you are aware when the power returns.

Tip #6: Keep aware of signs of hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia may include uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness, slurred speech, and incoherence.

Tip #7: Be sure to throw away any refrigerated or frozen food that has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two or more hours to avoid exposure to bacteria.