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04 May 2015

Winter Power Outage: What Must & Must Not Be Done

With winter comes snow and sometimes with snow comes power outage. Tree branches can break off and fall onto power lines due to snow that has collected above them. Even with the effort of the community to trim trees, strong winds can take them down causing havoc that can interrupt power flow. Since there’s no assurance of zero power outage this winter, it would be prudent to concoct a plan on how to stay safe and comfortable while the power is out.

Once you discover that there’s no electricity, call your neighbors to check if it’s the main line or if it’s just your house that is affected. If the problem is just inside your premises, inspect the circuit breakers and main fuses to see if they puffed or what. Try to replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker. If any of these doesn’t solve the problem, it would be better to call a licensed electrician. If the power outage is caused by a something outside your home (such as broken power lines), call the electric company. They will send skilled people to handle the problem right away, and they can tell you how long it would take before electricity is restored.

  • Prepare multiple flashlights and place them in different accessible locations. It’s nice to have big flashlights but you could also use some small ones, and store plenty of extra batteries in a dry place. Having a portable battery-powered radio is also advised so you can be updated of the current situation outside.
  • Keep enough heating fuel and wood. You can make a single room warm enough if there’s fire burning in the fireplace. But make sure that it’s well-ventilated.
  • Do not take those small air leaks too lightly. Weather-strip every door and window properly to prevent warm air from escaping.
  • Set up storm windows to improve thermal efficiency.
  • Keep the pipes from freezing by wrapping it with insulation foam or layers of newspapers. If you are going to use newspaper, make sure it is covered with plastic to protect it from moisture.
  • You must unplug all electronic appliances right away such as television sets, desktop computers and refrigerators. This is because the spike of the voltage when the electricity comes back may damage them. Also, don’t rush to turn them on when power is restored to reduce the strain on the electrical system.
  • Wear several layers of clothing but make sure that they are loose enough to allow proper blood circulation. For outer garments, opt for something that won’t absorb water. Also, wear mittens.
  • Put on a hot because a lot of body heat goes out from the top of your head.
  • Use a scarf to cover your mouth. This is to protect your lungs.
  • Be vigilant for signs of frostbite such as loss of sensation in your toes or fingers and signs of hypothermia such as uncontrollable shivering. If any sign is felt, apply first-aid right away and go to the hospital.
  • Do not open the refrigerator and freezer if it’s not necessary to prevent food from getting spoiled.
  • Stay alert when you go outside after the power outage. Broken electrical wires can be veiled by trees. Never try to touch them or anything that is in contact with them.
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