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What to do during a winter power outage
Sunday, January 27, 2013 8:56 PM

By Jim Lopshire • OSU Extension Educator, Paulding County

Last Sunday evening we experienced an unexpected power outage. A flash light was quickly found to navigate safely around the home. Next, I checked to see if the neighbors’ lights were on. Several neighboring homes to the west were dark as well, indicating we were not the only home experiencing a power outage.

If a power outage occurs, what should be done before calling the utility company? First, check the circuit breakers or fuses in your home’s electrical panel to make sure they have not blown. You can check with a neighbor to see if they have electrical power.

If the power is out due to circumstances outside you home, call your local utility company to report the outage. Unless there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. This number should only be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.

Other considerations include making sure flashlights and battery-powered portable radios are working and having extra batteries available. A radio is an important source of weather and emergency information during a storm.

Dress to stay warm and wear several layers of clothes, including a sweater, sweatshirt or even a jacket. Wear hat and gloves to minimize body heat loss through your hands and the top of your head. Utilize extra blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you can use it to keep at least one room livable. Use only alternative heaters designed for indoor use. Do not use outdoor type heaters, or BBQs, inside. They can create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide and are to be used in a well-ventilated area.

During winter months keep an extra supply of non-perishable food items and drinkable water. It may take days to get to the grocery store or for the stores to restock items.

Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed. Snowdrifts can be used as a makeshift freezer for food.

Unplug major appliances or electronics. When the power does come back on, all of those appliances can create a drain or power surge. This can harm sensitive equipment. Leaving a single light on will signal you when the power is restored.

If you have a generator, do not connect it to your home's power system unless it has been properly installed and disconnects you from the main power grid when in operation. If you do not disconnect from the power grid, you can be sending electricity back down the lines; not just to your home. This could be deadly for power company workers.