11 Ways to Prep for a Winter Power Outage

Nearly everything we do at home requires electricity, from cooking to communicating to keeping ourselves entertained. It’s easy to forget how much we depend on electricity—until there’s an outage. Before a winter storm takes out your electricity, do what you can now to prepare.

  1. Stock Up on Batteries

    Stock Up on Batteries Power Outage

    Make sure you have a good supply of batteries, in a range of sizes, for all your emergency needs. Buy extra batteries for your flashlights and radios as well as for your smoke detectors, clocks, and other appliances that run on battery backup.

    Related: 10 Things You Should Never Do When the Power Goes Out


  2. Check Your Flashlights and Radios

    Flashlights and Radios Power Outage

    Ensure that your flashlights and portable radios are in working order, and purchase replacement or supplemental ones if necessary. Flashlights and radios are vital during power outages. Don't plan on using candles; flashlights are safer. And a battery-powered radio will keep you connected to emergency and evacuation alerts when the television isn’t an option.

    Related: Prep for Disaster: 10 Things You'll Need in a Home Emergency


  3. Get a Full Tank of Gas

    Gas Up Car Power Outage

    Always fill up the tank before a big storm hits. Gas station pumps run on electricity, so if the power goes out gasoline will not be available. Don't get stuck with an empty tank!


  4. Buy a Car Charger for Your Cellphone

    Car Charger Power Outage

    You probably already keep a cellphone charger in your car, but having one is especially important when the power goes out. You'll need a charged phone so you can make calls and stay connected with news and information. With a car charger, you'll be able to keep your phone working even if the power stays off for an extended period of time.

    Related: 12 Winter Emergency Supplies You Should Always Keep in Your Car


  5. Get an Old-School Phone

    Landline Phone Power Outage

    If you have a landline, it’s worth keeping an old corded phone in a closet somewhere. Modern phones that plug into wall outlets will not work in a power outage, and having access to a usable landline will help you conserve your cellphone battery. 


  6. Keep Sufficient Heating Fuel on Hand

    Heating Fuel Power Outage

    Consider how you will stay warm if the power goes out. Even a gas-powered furnace requires electricity to run the fan that sends warm air through the vents. If you have a gas fireplace, consider installing a battery backup for the starter if if doesn't already have one. If you have a wood stove, stock up on firewood. Do not use a propane heater inside the home unless it is one specifically designed for indoor use; carbon monoxide can build up and create a deadly hazard.

    Related: 23 Brilliant Hacks to Help You Weather Winter


  7. Stock Up on Water

    Bottled Water Power Outage

    If you have a municipal water supply, the water will keep flowing. But if you have a well, the pump won’t work without electricity. When a heavy storm is predicted, stock up on drinking water, and fill up the bathtub and washing machine so you'll have enough water for washing and for flushing the toilets.


  8. Think About Your Food

    Manual Can Opener Power Outage

    Consider how you would prepare food without electricity. If you have gas appliances, you should be able to light them with a match, even when the electricity is out. But if you have an electric stovetop and oven, you’ll be out of luck. You can, however, use a propane grill or an open fire to cook outdoors. If that's your plan, stock up on propane or wood. And make sure you have a manual can opener!


  9. Turn Down the Temp in Your Fridge

    Fridge Temperature Power Outage

    Lower the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer before the storm hits, then if the power goes out they'll both stay cooler longer, increasing the chance your food will last. Consider moving perishables like milk and meat into the freezer so they'll stay colder, and to conserve the cold air inside, avoid opening the refrigerator doors.


  10. Stock Up on Nonperishable Foods

    Nonperishable Food Power Outage

    In the event of a long-term power outage, you may run out of fresh food. Or you might find that you're not able to cook anything. Stock up on nonperishable foods like nut butters, canned fruit and juices, granola bars, and crackers to keep yourself nourished, just in case you can’t cook or your fresh food has run out or spoiled.


  11. Protect Your Pipes

    Frozen Pipe Power Outage

    Your pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting in a power outage, especially if they aren’t sufficiently insulated. If you're concerned your pipes may freeze, shut off the main water valve in your home and open all the faucets until the pipes are empty. If you don’t know where the main shut-off valve is, find out before the next storm hits. 


  12. See the House of the Week


    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!