Dealing with a power outage never comes at a convenient time, but when it happens in winter it’s not only inconvenient, it can be downright dangerous. For many, not having electricity can mean no heat in their homes and, sometimes, no water. With the “Polar Vortex” and sub-zero temperatures Michigan and other states have been experiencing lately, having no heat is a big deal. Here are some tips to keep you warm and your home safe during an outage in the wintertime.
- Keep all doors and windows to the outside shut.
- Use towels or blankets to block drafts coming in from window and door cracks.
- Dress warmly in several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
- Mittens are better than gloves.
- Wear a hat.
- Instead of trying to heat the whole house, focus on just one room. Try to pick a room that gets natural sunlight and has a heating source like a fireplace or wood burning stove.
- Set up a tent inside your home. This will trap heat to a more confined area inside the home. Bonus: if you have kids, they’ll probably love playing in it!
- Snowdrifts can be used as a makeshift freezer, but be aware of attracting animals. You can also put snow or ice from outside in plastic bags and place them into the fridge or freezer to keep the food cold. Try to minimize how often you open the fridge/freezer doors though!
- If traveling is a safe option for you, find a warm place to go – maybe a public library, store, supermarket, or movie theater.
- Warming shelters may be available in your area through local non-profits such as the American Red Cross, which keeps an active map of open shelters all across the country.
- Unplug electronic equipment including TV’s, video players, microwaves, and computers to protect them from a possible power surge when power is restored.
- Freezing Pipes: To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers and cover the newspapers with plastic to keep moisture out. You can also let the faucets drip to help avoid freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so warmer air can circulate around the plumbing. Another options is to shut off the valve that allows water to come into your home. Open and drain valves and faucets and let them run until the pipes are empty. If you go with this option, make sure you have an alternate water source like bottled water or gallon water jugs.
- If you go outdoors, be careful and be aware that downed or hanging electrical wires can be hidden by snowdrifts, trees, or debris and could be active. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines. Keep children and pets away from them. Report them by calling 9-1-1 AND contacting a power supply company like DTE at 800-477-4747 or Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.
- Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning by installing a Carbon Monoxide alarm. Never use a generator inside your home or business. Do NOT use a gas stove, grill, or other open-flame source to heat your home. Deadly Carbon Monoxide gas, which is odorless and invisible, can build up in your home if you resort to these methods of heat.
- If you have a generator, make sure it’s properly ventilated and operated in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
- If you have children, reassure them that they will be all right and distract them with some activities like these.
- If you’re a Consumers Energy customer, you can keep track of power outage updates on their Power Outage Map, which includes restoration times.
- DTE also has a Power Outage Map available for its customers.
If you’re without power, we hope that you stay safe and warm and that your power is restored soon!