New England is Preparing for Rolling Blackouts this Winter - Are You?

Officials are warning residents of New England to prepare for a rough winter, where gas supplies will be limited and expensive, and rolling blackouts may be the norm due to the region’s reliance on burning gas for the creation of electricity. If you live in the area, you should be preparing for blackouts…and even if you don’t, you should be preparing for blackouts as well, because power outages are becoming more and more commonplace.

In fact, the number of power outages in the United States has doubled over the last 20 years, according to a 2022 Associated Press study, due to wildfires, hurricanes, derechos, and ice storms.

So, we recommend adding the following items to your to-do list BEFORE you experience a power outage this winter:

Weatherize your home.

Weatherizing your home will improve your own comfort while you are at home even if you have power, but it is especially important if you don’t.

Check for drafts. Before temperatures drop, check for air leaks or drafts in your home. Install new weatherstripping and caulk around doors and windows, and seal up small holes around plumbing, ducts, electrical wires, and chimneys.

Add insulation. Adding insulation is a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency year-round, but it will also keep you warmer when the power goes out.

Protect your pipes. Extremely cold weather leaves your pipes susceptible to freezing and bursting, which could turn into a very expensive and inconvenient problem to fix. Insulate your pipes with foam sleeves and shut off any pipes that are not in use.

Invest in a generator. You can prepare for winter storms (and any other event where you may experience a power outage) by purchasing and installing a generator to keep your HVAC, lights, sump pump, appliances, TVs, WiFi, etc. up and running.

Go solar. Even if you aren’t ready to invest in solar panels for the roof of your home, there are smaller solar panel options that are helpful to have during power outages for charging devices, radios, appliances, and even your generator!

Stock your pantry.

It’s always wise to have a selection of shelf stable food on hand, such as canned soups, fruits, meats, and vegetables, protein bars, dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, and cereal. We also recommend stocking up on emergency food supplies for complete, easy-to-prepare, well-rounded meals.

Assemble an emergency kit.

Everyone should have an emergency kit, or bug out kit, on hand that contains items specific to the natural disasters their area is prone to.

Your winter storm emergency kit should include:

  • Radio
  • Power bank car charger
  • Flashlights and batteries, or a hand-crank flashlight
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Outerwear (mittens, socks, hats, scarves)
  • Ponchos
  • Hand warmers
  • Boots
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire gauge
  • First-aid kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Lighter and a box of matches
  • Scissors
  • Cash
  • Duct tape
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Camping stove

Fill your gas tank.

Besides having plenty of gas in case you need to go somewhere in an emergency, here are three reasons to keep your vehicle’s gas tank full this winter:

Condensation can build up inside an empty gas tank, and when the temperature drops, that moisture will freeze, which can block the fuel lines and prevent your vehicle from starting.

If you tend to keep your gas tank near empty, the fuel pump will suck in more air, which can cause damage to your vehicle over time.
An empty tank allows dirt to clog the gas filter and get into the tank.

Be prepared for power surges.

To avoid damage to your appliances and devices, install surge protectors and/or unplug everything when the power goes out.

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