Winter has officially arrived! In many parts of the country, this season means not only cold, wintry weather, but also an array of unpredictable meteorological events.

Inclement weather brings with it increased chances of power outages. Even the term “power outage” is enough to send most people into a panic-induced tailspin.

If you’re feeling unprepared and nervous at the thought of enduring a power outage this winter season, read on for some helpful hints and tips to assist you in planning ahead and making it through expected—and unexpected—upcoming weather events.

What to Do in a Power Outage?

If you feel completely lost when it comes to what to do during a power outage, start with some basic planning and preparedness tips.

The more thought-out and planned you are, the less stressful the lack of power will actually be for those in your household.

  • Stay alert. Keep an eye on the forecast and monitor changing conditions. As news and weather programs adjust their predictions, make sure you’re aware of the shifts to plan your schedule and commute to/from home accordingly.
  • How to survive a power outage starts with having a power outage kit list handy.
  • Here are some of the best basics you can equip yourself—and your home—with:
    • Flashlights (make sure they’re working!)
    • Batteries for your flashlights
    • An emergency weather radio
    • A generator
    • A food thermometer to determine if your perishable items are safe to consume
    • Non-perishable food items
    • Bottled water
    • A can opener
  • Stocking up on these smart essentials will make you feel more secure in the event of a cold weather-related power outage.
  • When time permits, unplug appliances and devices to prevent power surges and potential damage to these products.
  • Check-in with your inner circle to make sure they are safe and have proper shelter or accommodations to protect themselves from the storm.
  • Have a plan for what to do, where to go, and when to make a decision about moving from your current accommodations to a new location if conditions worsen or become too dangerous to shelter in place.
  • Try to ensure that your cell phone, laptop, and any other digital communication tools are fully charged before you lose power.

What Food to Buy for a Power Outage?

In addition to having a stocked power outage kit, food is another essential element for how to survive a power outage in winter.

  • What to eat during a power outage includes items that are non-perishable, such as:
    • Canned fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat meats and meals
    • Dry cereal and granola
    • Fruit bars and/or protein bars
    • Peanut butter
    • Canned juices
    • Non-perishable, pasteurized milk (this could also include non-dairy milk)
  • When thinking of safe, longer-lasting food choices for an anticipated power outage, don’t forget the importance of keeping your refrigerator and freezer(s) closed as much as possible.
  • Doing so helps extend the amount of time your food will be kept at the proper temperature and minimize the risk of spoiled or rotten food.
  • Depending on how long your power outage lasts, refrigerated food should keep for about 10-12 hours.
  • Once power resumes, it is best to always check the temperature, appearance, and smell of your perishable products before attempting to eat or drink them.
  • A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, throw it out! Getting sick isn’t worth the risk of eating spoiled food.

What to Do When Power is Restored?

What a wonderful feeling it is when your power switches back on! However, this crucial time period still requires a bit of patience.

  • Wait a few minutes before plugging appliances or devices back in, and before using them. Doing so too quickly can result in pesky, potentially dangerous power surges.
  • Be cautious when going outside. You’ll need to make sure conditions are safe for venturing out—even as close as your front yard.
  • Downed wires, fallen or broken tree limbs, and icy patches of water—particularly deceptive patches of black ice—pose serious safety risks.
  • Take this time to not only enjoy your restored power but also reassess your current utility provider.
  • Now Power Texas, the top provider of prepaid energy in Texas, offers unbeatable rates and dependable service to consumers living in deregulated areas.
  • Prepaid electricity offers consumers the ability to prepay for their electricity, monitoring their energy usage habits with electronic devices called Smart Meters to help them stay on track throughout the month.
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