It was January of 2002. I was still young and living at home, and it was our first winter in Kentucky. I went to bed one night as usual, but when I woke up the next morning nothing was like it was the day before.
In the night, freezing rain and ice had come through our area. The temperatures were very low and it was a bad combination with the rain and ice.
So when I woke up the next morning, we were without power. It was for almost two weeks we sat without power. Thankfully, we had what we needed, but there were many people around us that struggled for basic needs such as warmth.
Now, I try to always stay one step ahead. You never know when something catastrophic can happen, or something as simple as a power outage in winter.
But if you don’t think ahead, then you might get caught with your pants down. So it is important to know what you need to survive a power outage during the dead of winter.
Prepping for a Winter Power Outage
1. How Would You Cook?
When the power outage hit us, thankfully, we had a place to go that had gas appliances. We camped out there for almost two weeks.
But had we stayed at home, I’m not sure how we would’ve eaten because all we had were electric appliances.
So you need to think now, if a winter storm rolls through my area, how will I cook for my family? I mean, you have to eat whether you are snowed in or iced in. My suggestion would be to consider a few different cooking options.
First, you could make the investment and get gas appliances. They are usually more costly, and you also have to consider another bill each month for the gas.
But they are dependable even when you have no power, and they do a great job with cooking.
Second, consider building an outdoor kitchen. I’m not saying it would be fun to cook outdoors in deep snow or in ice, but at least you would have a way to cook. Keeping everyone fed is the name of the game in these types of situations.
Third, consider installing a woodstove. We’ll discuss further benefits of a woodstove in a minute, but for right now, it would be a great way to cook indoors even without power.
Fourth, learn how to cook over an open fire. If you have a power outage, you can build a small, contained fire outside in order to cook food for your family.
Fifth, a burn barrel is a great way to contain a fire and cook with it as well. It, too, could have other benefits to it as well.
So if you need a simple way to ensure that you always have a way to cook, then you might want to check out some of these ideas for a burn barrel.
Sixth, consider building a fire pit. Not only would it be a great place to relax when it is warmer outside, but it would also be a great backup plan if you needed to cook during a power outage as well.
Finally, consider building a rocket stove. They are very easy to build yourself and work really well as a survival tool to have on hand. There isn’t much of an investment in building one, and you can always be prepared when you have one.
2. How Would You Stay Warm?
Heat is always a huge concern if your power goes out for any length of time in the winter. When our power was out for two weeks, thankfully, we were able to go to a home that had a large fireplace in it. If you’ve ever been to Cracker Barrel and sat around their large fireplace, that is how big this fireplace was where we stayed.
So needless to say, we had plenty of warmth.
But what would you do? You should consider a few of these options:
First, what about gas logs? If you already have a fireplace in your home, but you don’t like burning wood for whatever reason, then consider investing in gas logs. They put off a ton of heat and would certainly keep you warm.
Second, if you have a fireplace, then make sure you know how to utilize it as a typical wood burning fireplace. You’ll want to be sure it is cleaned out and ready to use at any given time over the winter.
Third, if you don’t have a fireplace, then maybe you should consider investing in a woodstove. I had never had one until our previous home. It was magnificent. Not only did I never have to wonder how I would cook without power, but I also knew we would always have warmth.
Plus, they last forever and are really easy to maintain as well.
Finally, be sure that you have plenty of blankets for warmth. Even if you do have a solid heat source, blankets are always a great thing to have on hand for extra warmth.
3. What About Food?
So you have a way to stay warm and a way to cook but have you thought about what you would do about food if a bad winter storm hit, and you had no way to get to the store?
Granted, I know most people stock up like crazy when they feel a winter storm is hitting, but what if you couldn’t?
Or what if you food preparations ran out earlier than expected.
Well, you should consider this so you can always be prepared. The first thing you can do is stockpile. When things are on sale go ahead and buy them so you know you’ll have plenty of what you need in case you actually ever really did need the food.
Then you should consider canning your own food. If you grow a garden and can each year, you’ll always have plenty of food that requires no electricity and will be there when you need it.
Finally, consider other food preservation methods such as dehydrating food. Again, this method requires no refrigeration to keep the food.
Then you could dehydrate food and make fruit leathers and jerky that will last for a long time. That way you know you are ready for a storm and prepared in case you are without power for quite some time.
4. How Would You See?
Many people live off-grid and deal with these situations on a daily basis.
However, for someone that is used to modern convenience, simple things like having no lights can make a power outage situation very difficult.
So it is important to think about what you would do in these scenarios. You could either invest in many candles (just be careful because of the fire hazard), or you could purchase a lantern.
Either way, you’ll at least be able to see how to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night if you needed to during a power outage.
Plus, a lot of people don’t like going to bed with the chickens. So if you’d like to stay up later when the power is out, you’ll need a way to be able to see.
Water is a necessary part of life. You need it to hydrate your body, bathe with, and to flush a toilet. So you need to think about water reserves if you lose power.
Now, if you are someone on city water, then you don’t have as much to think about here because just because your power goes out doesn’t mean your water will.
But if you are someone like myself with a powered borehole, then you should definitely consider what you will do about water with no power.
However, even if you live within city limits, you need to think what you would do about water if your pipes froze. A lot of time in the winter, this is a common issue that could occur during a winter storm power outage.
So you should consider preparing every time you hear that you are under a winter storm watch or warning. You should fill up your bathtub with water and put the stopper in. That way you’ll have water on hand to flush the toilet.
Also, you could fill up your washing machine as well with water and store it in there as well to be able to flush the toilet.
Next, consider saving your old milk jugs and filling them with water. That way you’ll always have drinking water, water to bathe with, or brush your teeth in the event that the power goes out, and you have no way to do these things.
Finally, consider harvesting rainwater. If you have livestock, you’ll need to think how you will continue to give them water. Last winter our pipes froze. I was so glad we harvested rainwater because I didn’t have to worry how I was going to water my animals while I waited on my husband to fix the pipe situation.
6. What Will You Do?
Let’s be real, if your power is out for weeks on end in the middle of winter, and the conditions are pretty bad outside, you are going to go stir-crazy.
So when building or thinking of your emergency kit, you’ll also need to think about what you’ll do for entertainment. A few suggestions would be to include fun card games. My family loves Uno and Rook.
But you could also include a few good books and board games too.
However, consider storing some art supplies for painting or drawing. I like to keep a spare notebook and pen around because I enjoy writing.
Finally, try to be around people if you have to deal with a power outage over winter. You could at least talk, play games, or even play in the snow together to pass the time until life returns to normal.
7. Hold the Phone
We are all seriously connected to our phones. Not only do they help us call for help when needed, but they can also be used as a hot spot to access the internet or keep up with people through social media.
So you might want to consider locating a solar charger, keeping an extra battery on hand, or making sure that you have a car charger to charge your phone in the car.
Also, remember that you will always need to keep your car full of gas just in case you must use it in order to charge your phone. Otherwise, you could potentially run your car battery down which would only compound an issue.
8. Deep Freeze
When your power goes out, and you are someone that stores a lot of food in your deep freeze, then you could be seriously in trouble.
In our case, we have a commercial ice maker in our garage. What we do is leave the food in the deep freeze as long as possible.
Then when it begins getting warm, we begin placing the food in the ice maker because it obviously stays colder longer. Worst case scenario, make sure you stay up to date on your home owner's insurance because a lot of insurance companies will reimburse you for what you lost in a power outage.
9. Alternative Energy Source
I was talking to one of the girls that work with us here at Morning Chores, and she was telling me how awful power outages can be in the city. Because of her bad experiences of having to climb flights of stairs because the elevators wouldn't work, dealing with large amounts of traffic because of no traffic signals, and the worst, being caught in a public restroom without power (yikes!), she really encouraged me to make sure you all thought this through prior to it happening to you.
So I encourage you to always keep a flashlight on hand in your home and on your person in case you need it in an emergency situation.
Then you may definitely want to consider powering your home with an alternative energy source so you don't have as many challenges to deal with. You could go solar, install a windmill to power your home, or even keep a backup generator on hand in the event you might need it.
Also, that generator would be very helpful to power things like a fridge or a deep freeze so you don't lose food. These are all just suggestions and things for you to think about in the event you find yourself in this situation this upcoming winter.
So you now have nine things to think over before winter hits. Most of us will deal with a winter power outage at some point in our lives. It is a good idea to think ahead and be prepared.
But I’d like to hear from you. Do you have plans on how you’d deal with a power outage over winter? What are they?
We love hearing from you so share your thoughts with us!