Winter storms, with their wind, ice, and heavy snow, can damage power lines and cause outages. Here are some ways to prepare for and get through a winter power outage here in the Midwest.
Before the storm
If you know a storm is coming, set your refrigerator and freezer a few degrees colder than your normal settings.
Make sure at least a couple of your flashlights work and have good batteries in them.
Fully charge electronics, including cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly and replace the batteries in any that are beeping.
If you have a backup generator, turn it on periodically to make sure it works, and keep some gasoline on hand if your generator uses it.
If you don’t have a backup generator, consider purchasing one if your budget allows.
If you have well water, and your backup generator won’t power your well pump in the event of an outage, fill up your bathtub to have a bit of surplus water.
Have extra blankets and winter clothing (coats, hats, gloves, etc.) ready in case you lost heat.
During the power outage
Report your power outage as soon as possible to your electric company. Here in the Chicagoland area, you can report your outage to ComEd by phone, text message, social media, or on their website, and get periodic updates as crews work to fix that lines that serve your home.
Use flashlights or battery-powered lamps for lighting. If you light any candles, don’t leave them unattended so they don’t cause a fire.
If you use a backup generator, take all safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer. Always run gas-powered generators outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Dress warmly, in layers, to stay warm while you’re without heat. If it gets really cold in your home, watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
If you lose your heat, close doors to unused rooms and place towels under the doors to concentrate heat in the rooms you’re in. At night, cover your windows with shades, blankets, or sheets.
Unplug sensitive electronics to protect them from potential surges when your power is restored.
After the outage
If you see any downed power lines, stay away from them and report them to your electric company. Assume they are live and never touch them or drive over them.
If you have a prolonged outage, you may need to throw away some food. For foods that need to stay refrigerated, throw them out if they sat at a temperature over 40 degrees for more than a couple of hours. Try to open your refrigerator as little as possible during an outage to keep it as cool as possible.
If you have a generator, make sure to turn it off and put it back to where you normally store it. Service it periodically to make sure it’s in proper working order.
We hope these tips were helpful in preparing for any power outages our cold Midwestern winters can bring. Kamm Insurance Group is your trusted agent located in the Chicagoland area, though we serve the entire United States.