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Preparation is power: Weathering winter outages

Anyone who has weathered ­prolonged outages due to an ice or winter storm will tell you it is more than inconvenient. Such an outage during cold weather creates an additional set of challenges and safety requirements. Prepare now to ensure you’re not left in the cold when the next one happens.

Safe Electricity recommends assembling an emergency kit with essential items such as:

 Flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries

 First aid kit and essential medicines

 Non-perishable food

 Bottled water

 Basic tools and related materials

 Extra blankets and clothing to dress in layers

 Outerwear at the ready, including hats, gloves and scarves

 Rags or duct tape to seal air leaks

If you have a wood stove or ­fireplace, have plenty of wood on hand, and if you have a fuel-based heater, have extra fuel and the means to vent the fumes.

Know how you can get area weather updates, such as a weather radio, mobile notification system you can enroll in, mobile app, etc. Visit state and local websites for emergency outage plans in your area. Develop an emergency plan with your family so everyone knows what to do in an outage. Keep your mobile devices fully charged and ready to use when a storm is headed your way.

Additional tips for weathering a cold weather outage:

 Dress in several layers of warm clothing. Wear a hat to avoid the loss of heat from your head

 Reduce the amount of wasted heat during an outage by closing doors to rooms not being used and securing curtains and blinds to reduce heat loss from windows

 Never use an oven or charcoal grill to heat the home

 Reduce the risk of spoiling food during an outage by lowering the temperature of your ­refrigerator as low as possible, and avoid opening the refrigerator doors unless it becomes necessary. By doing so, you can keep your food cool for up to 24 hours

 Protect your sensitive electronics by unplugging devices such as televisions and computers. Use surge protectors to protect electronics when power comes back on

 Be alert to the signs of frostbite, which can include loss of feeling in the extremities, and ­hypothermia, such as shivering, memory loss, incoherence or drowsiness

 Use caution when going outside. Downed power lines could be hidden by snow or ice. If you see a downed power pole or line, stay far away and report it to your electric utility

A portable generator can provide power in the event of an outage. Have an electric cord long enough to keep the generator at least 20 feet from any door, window or vent to keep carbon monoxide out of the home. Read your instruction manual before use and operate your ­generator in well-ventilated areas.

Never use a portable generator in the home or garage –and never plug it into a home wall outlet or connect it directly to the home’s electrical system. Install battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors near floors on each level of the home.

For more information on elec­trical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.