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How to be prepared if you lose power due to winter storms

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Electrical cable covered with a layer of frost.

Power outages are likely during winter weather, especially when large amounts of snow or ice are involved.

Here's how to be prepared if you lose electricity due to winter storms.

Tips for when you lose power

  • If you have a generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and become deadly.
  • You should also never use a charcoal grill or camp stove inside, for either cooking or heating. Like generators, the fumes they produce can be toxic.
  • If you smell gas at any point during a power outage or otherwise, leave your home immediately and call your utility provider.
  • During an outage, do not open refrigerators or freezers unless absolutely necessary. Cold air can escape, allowing food to thaw and spoil more quickly.
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If you have a generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and become deadly.

What to have on hand

  • Remember to keep a battery-powered radio and extra batteries on hand so that you can get emergency alerts even when your power is out.
  • Flashlights are also key so that you have a light source during power outages.

Beyond the basics

In addition to those essentials, ReadyNC.gov, part of N.C. Emergency Management, recommends keeping the following items in your basic emergency kit:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for three to seven days)
  • Food (non-perishable and canned food supply for three to seven days)
  • Cell phone with charger
  • First aid kit
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off water
  • Blanket or sleeping bag (one per person)
  • Prescription medications
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses and solution
  • Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash and change
  • Books, games or cards
  • Important documents, including insurance policies, a copy of your driver’s license, Social Security card and bank account records.

Winter storm specific items

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to create traction on walkways
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
  • Warm clothing
  • Extra blankets

COVID-19 considerations

Add these items to your kit for pandemic safety:

  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes

For families with babies or small children

Be sure to include:

  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Pacifier
  • Soap and/or baby powder
  • Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Canned food and juices

For family members with functional needs

Be sure to include:

  • Container for hearing aid or cochlear implant processor (to keep them dry)
  • Extra batteries for hearing aid or cochlear implant
  • Communication card explaining the best way to communicate with the person

For families with pets

Include these items for your furry friends:

  • Canned or dry pet food
  • Water for three to seven days
  • Food dishes
  • Collar, leash and/or harness
  • Immunization records
  • Identification tag (should contain the pet’s name and your phone number)
  • Current photos of your pets, in case they become lost
  • Medicine your pet requires
  • Pet beds and toys
  • Pet carrier

How to conserve heat in your home

The National Weather Service recommends the following safety tips if you lose heat:

  • Close off rooms that you aren’t using to avoid wasting heat.
  • Stuff towels or rags in the cracks under doors.
  • Close blinds or curtains on your windows to keep in some heat.
  • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drink lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks to prevent dehydration. Cold air is very dry.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, sweating and subsequent chill.

Watch Now: Tips to keep your heating bill low, and more videos to improve your life

Here are some ways to keep your heating bill down this winter, five late night snacks to help you sleep, and more videos to improve your life.

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