Preparing for a Winter Storm
Did you know that weather experts are predicting that this season may be a snowier-than-usual winter for the DMV area? While our winter storms are uncommon and fairly mild, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Here is our list of “must-haves” to have to protect you from unexpected power outages and keep your family safe during winter weather.
1. Working Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is silent, odorless, and deadly. While this gas is present year-round, a large snowfall can cause snow to accumulate outside, blocking vents and preventing gas from escaping. Indoor fuel-burning sources like heaters, fireplaces, and stoves all increase the amount of CO in the home, and a Carbon Monoxide detector will tell you when those amounts have reached a dangerous level. Winter is a good time to replace the batteries and test your detector to make sure it’s ready to alert you if anything changes inside your home.
It’s also important to check your vents outside after a large snowstorm and clear away any built-up snow. Don’t take any chances — if the batteries in your detector are full and the alarm sounds, call 911.
2. Portable Battery & Charger
Winter conditions can quickly go from bad to worse and you want to be able to communicate with friends, family, or emergency personnel. A fully-charged portable battery bank can keep your phone on and give you a lifeline to the outside world in case of a power outage. Look for a battery with around 20000mAh and a fast charge port. These batteries will be able to charge a smartphone and a tablet quickly in an emergency.
Don’t fumble around in the dark! A handy flashlight with fully charged batteries is a staple in any emergency kit and should be kept somewhere both easy to find and reach. Having a reliable source of light in the midst of a power outage means you can navigate stairs, check heaters and vents, and give your family some peace of mind.
A flashlight is much safer than candles and can be left unattended. It’s a good idea to have an extra battery pack nearby, just in case!
Sometimes the simplest solution is the best, and a cozy blanket is a safe way to keep warm during a winter storm. They’re easy to layer, unlikely to catch fire or emit carbon monoxide, and most people have several already in the home. Sometimes you just need to grab your favorite blanket, a warm beverage and wait out the bad weather.
5. Propane or Kerosene Heater for INDOOR use
A portable source of heat can be very useful in case of a winter power outage, but you need to be wary of burning fuel inside your house. Look for a propane or kerosene heater rated for indoor use. Make sure the heater is well-maintained, and try not to use it in a small, closed room. Avoid placing it near anything flammable like furniture or rugs, and make sure you’ve checked your carbon monoxide detector before relying on the heater for extra warmth.
TIP: In the event of a prolonged power outage, protect your pipes by letting your taps drip. Even a little water flow will prevent your pipes from freezing up when the temperatures drop overnight, saving you lots of time and grief waiting for them to thaw.
If you’re looking for a thorough list of items to keep in your home emergency kit, check out our blog post. Last month, we compiled all of the essentials that will keep you and your family safe in the event of an emergency.