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10 Things to Know About Winter Power Outages

Winter power outages cause several inconveniences, but there are some things you can do to better weather the storm.

A white home electrical outlet on a light grey wall.Jason Kolenda/Shutterstock

Protect Your Electronics and Appliances

When the power goes out, first make sure it’s not just a blown circuit. If the power outages are going to be out for a long time, protect your electronics and appliances by unplugging any that use electric motors. And turn a light switch to the “on” position so you’ll know when the power comes back on. Make sure you don’t do any of these things that make your phone an easy target for hackers.

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Keep Cold Air Out

Temperatures during winter outages can drop significantly. And keep all doors and windows to the outside shut tight. If you have cracks or gaps near windows and doors, use towels or a rolled-up blanket placed in front of the gap to stop drafts. If the outage is at night, close the curtains or blinds. Also, if the sun is out and shining in the window, place a dark-colored blanket on the floor where it can catch the sun’s rays to generate heat. These are a few home repairs that anyone can do.

Prevent Frozen PipesFilaphoto/Shutterstock

Prevent Frozen Pipes

If you have municipal water, turn faucets to a trickle to prevent frozen pipes. And if you have a well with an electric pump, you can wrap pipes in newspapers, towels, or blankets to prevent them from freezing. If your pipes have frozen, try using some of the best plumbing repair tips from the professionals.

Fragment of the interior of a country house. The iron furnace is heated. There is wood near the stove. It's dark outside the window.Anatoliy Eremin/Shutterstock

Safely Heat Your Home

Never rely on gas stoves or charcoal grills as an indoor heat source. Wood fireplaces and wood stoves can be used. And you can also run a bathtub of hot water (heat the water on an outdoor grill or stove if necessary) to help warm up the home. This is why you should check your chimney before using your fireplace.

Mobile Gasoline Generator on the Building SiteRadovan1/Shutterstock

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Dangers

If you’re using a generator during power outages, make sure it is properly ventilated and that you follow the manufacturer’s directions when operating. And keep generators away from all windows, doors, and vents that could draw air indoors. Here are a few tips to keep your home safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

sleeping bagsMPH Photos/Shutterstock

Stay Warm When Sleeping


If power outages last overnight, use a sleeping bag and wool blankets which are both great insulators. Also, wear a winter cap on your head and mittens on your hands. And layer on any blankets, including fleece and fur which will help keep the heat in. You can also sleep in a group to generate body heat. Make sure you know these innocent sleep habits that are completely ruining your sleep quality.

Close-up image of young hipster girl sitting at cozy home interior and using modern smartphone device, female hands typing text message via cellphone, social networking conceptImYanis/Shutterstock

Be Smart with Communication


Limit phone calls and texts to emergencies-only to help preserve your phone’s battery life. And during some power outages, text messages may go through when calls do not. Reduce your screen’s brightness and close apps you’re not using to conserve battery life. Learn the secrets to having a better smartphone battery life.


Eat and Drink for Warmth


Eating raises metabolism which burns calories and will help you generate some internal heat. And think high-calorie, nonperishable foods such as nuts and trail mix, fruits, canned soups, and canned meat and fish. Also, drink plenty of water, along with hot beverages such as tea and coffee, if you have a way to make them. Avoid alcohol which can be dehydrating and put you at risk for making bad decisions. Here are a few health benefits of drinking plain hot water.

New ceramic toilet bowl near light wallNew Africa/Shutterstock

Water Woes


If you have little running water, only flush when absolutely necessary. And if you have no running water, you can use a 5-gallon bucket and sawdust to absorb liquid and odor. Bathe only when necessary. Also you can try heating up water on an outdoor grill or stove and using it to wash, but remember, you’ll quickly become cold once you get wet. Try baby wipes for basic hygiene. Do you know the germiest spot in your bathroom? (Hint: It’s not your toilet.)


Watch for Frostbite and Hypothermia

Signs of frostbite include a pale appearance and loss of feeling in extremities. And hypothermia symptoms include memory loss, slurred speech, uncontrollable shivering, and exhaustion. Also, if the victim is conscious, remove any wet or damp clothing and move the victim to the warmest area of the home. Call for medical help as soon as possible. Next, be sure to read the things homeowners aren’t doing but need to do.
Originally Published on The Family Handyman

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.