Be prepared if a power outage occurs

A couple walks in search of running water after a winter storm caused power outages and stopped the flow of public water in Austin, Texas, Feb. 17, 2021. Power outages and no running water have left Texas and other parts of the South still feeling the effects of a deep freeze that swept the region earlier this week. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times)

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A couple walks in search of running water after a winter storm caused power outages and stopped the flow of public water in Austin, Texas, Feb. 17, 2021. Power outages and no running water have left Texas and other parts of the South still feeling the effects of a deep freeze that swept the region earlier this week. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times)

With winter in full swing, it’s important to understand and be prepared for power outages.

Power outages can occur for many reasons, such as thunder, lightning, snow and ice storms; or strong winds. Outages due to severe weather could be as short as a light flicker or long as a few days. This month’s Arctic blast across the nation shut down power to millions of people in Texas.

It is vital to understand the dangers that could be involved and ways to keep you and your family more prepared in case an outage occurs in your home.

Every household should have an emergency-preparedness kit with the basics, according to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness: nonperishable food, drinking water, a battery-operated radio, extra clothes, flashlight with extra batteries, sleeping bag/blankets, sanitation items and medications. This is not an all-inclusive list; kits should be tailored to each household.

To prepare your home for a power outage, there are a few important issues to look at. First, make sure you have battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery backup, and perform a test of the batteries monthly. You should also purchase a high-quality surge protector for your computer and other important electrical equipment.

Finally, if your home has an electric-garage door opener, knowing how to open the door manually is a key safety measure.

Another thing to remember is to never use a generator or propane heater inside homes, garages, crawl-spaces, sheds or any enclosed areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

If you feel it’s necessary to install a generator, be sure to consult with and seek expert assistance from a licensed professional.

For more information about power outages, or a thorough list of what you should have in an emergency-preparedness kit, visit the Ohio Department of Public Safety website at www.publicsafety.ohio.gov.

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