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I wanted to share tips when you lose your power since most of us are facing quite a wintery week ahead! Believe it or not, the first day of spring is only 5 weeks away (March 20)! But as I write this post today many of you are facing winter weather and weather watches up for more snow & ice coming your way. Looking at the weather map it shows much of the country experiencing snowy conditions as well as ice storms.
When we moved to Virginia our first winter ( 2019-2020) was a very mild one with little snow. Since January of this year we have had snow but more surprising are the ice storms that affect this area. We were use to snow in PA &. I can still remember a few blizzards in the ’90s that closed things down for a few days. But ice storms were pretty rare at least in NW PA!
What Exactly are Ice Storms?
According to The Weather Channel:
Ice forms when freezing rain accumulates on surfaces and the ground.
Freezing occurs when air warmer than the freezing mark above the ground moves over subfreezing air near the ground. When snow aloft falls through the warmer layer it melts into rain. Then, as the rain droplets fall into the shallow layer of subfreezing air, the droplets freeze upon contact. This creates a glaze of ice.
Check out this article and some images that explain what happens: Click Here
So as you can see during many ice storms or even heavy snowstorms you can easily lose your power due to the weight on branches and power lines. This past weekend we had one of these ice storms which put most of the area in the dark & actually many still waiting on their power to be restored to their homes.
What Happens when the lights go out?
Being prepared is probably the most important thing when it comes to power outages. According to the Farmers Almanac ”
“Deal first with the biggest safety issues: bringing light to the dark, staying warm and dry, and providing food to yourself and your family.”
HOW TO HAVE LIGHT IN A POWER OUTAGE
- It’s best to use flashlights or battery-powered (LED) lanterns to use in case of a power outage rather than candles to prevent accidental fires. Attach a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to your flashlights to make them easy to find.
- Headlamps are very helpful for every family member. These enable you to have both hands free to do tasks, and family members can be more independent. Some great headlamps can be found HERE
- You can even read a book in bed while wearing one. Stock up on straps, too, to strap the headlamp to a gallon of water. By strapping the headlamp onto the jug with the lamp’s front-facing the inside, the light reflects off of the water and can illuminate more of the room.
- Avoid using candles or an open flame as a light source, as it could be a fire hazard, particularly if there are children or pets in the home. While romantic, they can tip over too easily in an emergency situation. However, if this is all you have on hand, just be careful not to leave candles or fuel-lit lamps unattended. Use secure candle holders. Empty food cans half-filled with sand work great. Be sure to also have a supply of lighters or matches to light your candles with.
- Your cell phone could be used for light—for as long as the battery lasts. Drastically increase your battery life by plugging your phone into a portable USB battery pack. Here is a link to one on Amazon.
What about my food?
A big question many people have when they lose their power is how long will my food last?
According to fda.gov website:
Here are basic tips for keeping food safe:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep an 18 cubic foot, fully stocked freezer cold for two days.
- If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish, or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it is important that each item is thoroughly cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to ensure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40º F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 º F) — discard it.
Once Power is Restored . . .
Determine the safety of your food:
- If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
- If the power was out for no more than 4 hours, refrigerated food should be safe as long as the doors were kept closed. When the power comes back on, check the temperature in the refrigerator or of the food. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at refrigerator temperatures above 40°F for 4 hours or more. Perishable foods with temperatures that are 45°F or below (measured with a food thermometer) should be safe, but should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible.
Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.
I found a couple of great charts from the food safety website that might help if you face a power outage regarding food in your refrigerator and freezer. Just click on the “website” link above or click on the chart to download a PDF file.
CHART For Refrigerated Food
CHART for Frozen Food
What about a generator??
Reasons to Buy a Generator
The main reason it is worth it to buy a home generator is to keep your refrigerator and freezer running smoothly to avoid food spoilage. Additionally, it is useful to power your office if you work from home and also to prevent the outage of any necessary medical devices. Here are 5 reasons I found online that might help your decison on owning a generator:
1.) Powering Your Sump Pump
2.) Powering Your Home Business
3.) Powering Electric Medical Devices
4.) Powering Your Well Water
5.) Use for Camping/Boating Equipment