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Colder Weather is Upon Us – Be Prepared for Power Outages

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Colder Weather is Upon Us – Be Prepared for Power Outages

Much of the Midwest is slowly digging out after more than a foot of snow was dumped in some areas, making it the first major snowstorm of the winter season which begins December 21. Now is the time of year when temperatures drop and the chances of a winter storm are greater. It is also the time of year when gusting winds and accumulating ice and snow can bring power outages.

Below are a few considerations you can share with community members when discussing how to prepare for the winter weather a power outage:

Actions to take for a power outage:

  • Ensure you have a battery-powered or hand cranked radio to listen for emergency updates and news reports.
  • If using a portable generator during a power outage, it should always be operated outside, away from doors and windows to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide.
  • Have flashlights or electric lanterns on hand to provide light; candles may add a spark of adventure during power failures, but they are dangerous fire hazards. Flashlights and electric lanterns require batteries so consider, during extended outages, keeping a supply of extra batteries.
  • Remember, microwaves will not work! It’s important to keep a supply of water and of nonperishable food such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juices, milk, and soup. Additionally, have a hand-operated can opener available.

Actions to take to get ready for snow or winter weather:

Winter Storms & Extreme Cold

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit 
  •  Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
    •  Recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water. LEARN MORE AT FEMA


Gift-giving is in the air this time of year as many people around the country are celebrating holiday traditions. Over the past few weeks on our Facebook account we’ve been sharing ideas on gifts that will make your loved ones smile and be useful before, during or after emergencies.

Gifts like:

  • An emergency kit for your car: Include windshield scraper, booster cables, hat & mittens, blanket, snack food & flares.
  • A solar-powered or hand-crank cell phone charger.
  • Enrollment in a CPR or first-aid class. You take the class as a couple or with the family!
  • Travel-size games to include in an emergency kit; this way kids are entertained if you lose power or need to evacuate.
  • A NOAA weather radio to ensure friends and family always have the latest on severe weather conditions in their area.
  • A sleeping bag or a warm blanket. They can prove especially useful if friends/family loses power during the cold winter months.


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