In 2014 alone, 3,634 power outages affected some 14.2 million people. And with disturbingly powerful storm systems currently wreaking havoc across the eastern seaboard, it’s important to be prepared for everything from natural gas leaks to blackouts. They can happen anytime and anywhere, but they’re certainly more common during the colder months. People are turning up the heat more, generally using more energy, and then “Zap!” — it’s gone.
They’re inconvenient no matter the season, but during the winter months, they can be especially dangerous. Let’s look at some ways to stay safe when the power’s down during winter.
Keeping your home warm when the power’s out can be quite the task. While your home heating system is offline, make sure you’re not causing hazards with fire (candles or otherwise) or inappropriate gas-fueled appliance use. Yearly, people attempt to heat a part of their powerless home by letting the oven or stove run. Running natural gas appliances like that can cause harmful carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure those appliances aren’t lit for warmth and aren’t causing natural gas leaks. Layer up instead, and use battery powered devices for light.
Many families have emergency generators for times like this. However, the majority are either unfamiliar with using one or only recently bought one. When you’re buying a generator, you should always consult with a professional. Be sure you’re buying the right device for your home, keep it away from your home while it’s running, and never run it in the house.
When In Doubt, Get Out
If a power outage has you concerned for the safety of your family and you, leave the house. Do so safely, though, as winter outages usually come with some manner of extreme weather. Find a place in the community to keep warm or a relative/friend. Carbon monoxide, natural gas leaks, and other household hazards aren’t to be taken lightly. You should never stay in your home if you’re concerned about safety but leave with a plan. Fewer people get hurt in their homes than do while trying to leave and drive somewhere else. Remember, if your power is out, chances are streetlights and traffic lights are out. Weigh your decisions with care.
Your home is a safe place. Even when things like this happen, it’s the safest place you can be. Knowing about the potential hazards that rear their ugly heads when the power goes down is half the battle against them. Stay empowered this winter!