How to prepare for an unexpected power loss

While you can lose power to your home any time during the year, the most common time for us to lose power here in central Oklahoma is during a severe winter ice storm. This can be more than a simple inconvenience—it can be a matter of life and death for some families.

Of course, we don’t know if this winter will bring any ice storms or widespread power outages, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Stock up on these essentials

1. Medications: Do you take regular medications? See if you can purchase your medicines in a 90-day supply instead of the commonly prescribed 30-day amounts.

2. Battery-powered emergency radio: Many weather-aware Oklahomans already have a battery powered radio, but then again, many families we’ve visited with don’t have one. If you don’t have one and aren’t sure how to choose the right model for you, this is a helpful article.

3. Phone charger for vehicle: A lot of us depend on our smart phones, which conveniently need a charged battery to operate. A car phone charger can keep that phone battery charged and keep you plugged in.

4. Dry foods and water: Having a two- to four-week supply of dry goods and water is a smart idea, extreme weather notwithstanding. If a storm shuts down supply lines, most grocery stores will run out of food within a few days, so it’s best to have some food and water on hand.

5. Portable generator fuel: If you’re fortunate enough to have a portable generator for your home, make sure you keep a decent stock of fuel for it. During a sustained power loss, most gas pumps won’t work properly.

Preventive steps you can take

Luckily for us, Oklahomans are highly weather aware. Our news channels largely do a wonderful job of preparing us for upcoming inclement weather. Here’s a small list of things we strongly recommend considering if you learn that significant winter weather is on the way.

1. Trim tree branches: Falling tree limbs can cause major damage to your property and pull down electrical lines. Be very careful trimming any branches in the vicinity of power lines. You may even want to hire a professional. It’s a good idea to keep your tree branches trimmed as part of your regular home maintenance.

2. Lower the temperature in your fridge and freezer: If you think power loss seems likely from a forecasted storm, you can proactively lower the temperatures in your refrigerator and freezer(s). Once the power does go out, they will maintain their cooling temperature much longer.

Safety tips for after the power is out

1. Unplug appliances: There’s a high chance that when power does come back on, it will be with a power surge. That can damage your appliances and electronics. Since the power’s already out, why not unplug them and prevent that potential cause of damage?

2. Leave one light switch on: Since the appliances and electronics are unplugged, make sure to leave at least one light switch on. This will let you know when the power has been restored.

3. Check on your neighbors: It’s the Oklahoma way. Take a few moments to check on people in your area who might be vulnerable. You might be able to help someone who is in a bad way or didn’t prepare for the situation.

4. Operate that generator safely: If you have a portable generator, remember not to operate it indoors. The generator produces carbon monoxide by burning fuel. Also, avoid plugging your generator into the outlets inside or outside your home. That runs the risk of sending power back to the utility grid, which could lead to the injury or death of a utility worker.

Hopefully, you won’t need to use your weather radio or dip into your stored food this winter. But being prepared and having a plan for what you will do if there is an ice storm that creates significant power loss will help you handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us this winter.

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