3 Tips for Winter Emergency Weather Preparedness

By the time the great snowstorm of the northeast ended on October 30, 2011, more than three million customers found themselves without power. Snow piled up across the northeast, with places like Plainfield, Massachusetts accumulating 30.8 inches of snow. While a snowfall of this caliber is extreme, it’s also an important reminder to expect, and prepare for, the unexpected. And it’s not at all uncommon for at least one or two snowstorms to knock out power for a day or two in many areas of the country.

Power outages, depending on their severity, can be anything from a nuisance to a danger. By planning ahead, you can keep the headaches to a minimum.

Create an Emergency Kit

Creating an emergency kit and storing it in an easy-to-access area in your home is a simple way to alleviate panic and stress during a weather-related emergency. Include some of the basics (non-perishables, a first aid kit, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, clothing) but customize it to your needs (consider adding medication, extra eyeglasses or contact lenses and extra pet food). The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has created a handy checklist to ensure you have what you need ahead of time.

Winter Emergency PrepBackup power

Portable generators can provide critical backup power during outages. They provide electricity by running a gas-powered engine. That turns an on-board alternator to generate electrical power. Power outlets on the unit allow you to plug extension cords, electric-powered tools and appliances into it. In general, the more powerful the generator, the more outlet combinations are available. A portable generator can help keep the items you need running:

  • Lights
  • Refrigerators and freezers
  • Computers, tablets and cell phone chargers
  • Furnaces
  • Sump pumps
  • TVs

Here at Briggs & Stratton, we recommend either our 10000 or 8000 Watt Elite Series Portable Generators. They’re ideal for power outages and have between a 7 to 9 hour run time without refueling. It’s important to remember: Do not operate a portable generator indoors, in a garage or other enclosed structure or near open windows due to dangers associated with carbon monoxide. Find more details about portable generators, and how to use them safely.

Communication plan.

When the power fails, it’s important you are able to maintain contact with the outside world to keep up the news and get in touch with family members. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a great communication checklist to make sure you’re still connected, even if the power fails. Their recommendations include having:

  • Cell phone, portable charger, extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio for listening to local emergency instructions
  • Make a Family Communication Plan
  • Know winter storm warning terms:
  • Winter Weather Advisory – winter weather condition that could cause severe inconvenience and life-threatening hazards
    • Frost/Freeze Warning – Below-freezing temperatures
    • Winter Storm Watch – Be alert; storm is likely
    • Winter Storm Warning – Take action; the storm is in or entering the area
    • Blizzard warning – Seek refuge immediately; snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts and life-threatening wind chill

Stay safe this winter – handle anything mother nature throws your way.