Power outages are most likely to occur in winter. Whether it's due to heavy snowfall or a downed power line, these unplanned disruptions can be costly and dangerous. That's why it's important for homeowners and businesses alike to prepare for power outages in winter with reliable backup sources like portable solar generators and other emergency supplies.
In this guide, we'll explain how to prepare your home or business for winter power outages ahead of time, what essential devices and supplies you should always have ready, and how to stay safe during a winter blackout with the help of careful planning and a portable power station.
Understanding Winter Power Outages
Winter power outages can be caused by a variety of factors, most commonly due to extreme weather conditions such as heavy snowfall or ice storms. These events can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines, leading to an outage. High winds can also knock down power lines or damage electrical equipment.
There’s also an increased demand for electricity during cold weather. When aging infrastructure is unable to handle the extra pressure to perform, the electrical grid becomes overloaded, resulting in winter power outages.
To check if a power outage is expected in your area, contact your local utility company or visit their website for updates on current and upcoming outages. Signing up for text alerts from your utility company is another easy way to be notified when outages occur in your area.
It may seem tedious planning for a potential outage, but this preparation is potentially life-saving. Portable power sources like Anker's solar generators and portable power stations can help you stay safe and comfortable during a blackout. Why are they so important? Let’s dive in.
The Importance of Portable Power Sources
Portable power sources are becoming increasingly popular as reliable sources of energy for those who need them during power outages or when outlets aren't nearby. Portable power stations and solar generators provide an alternative to traditional grid-tied electricity, allowing users to have access to much-needed power wherever they go and whatever the situation calls for.
The Benefits of Portable Power Stations
Portable power sources offer many benefits over traditional grid-tied electricity, and they can be critical for residential backup power.
Compared to a gas generator, portable power stations are far more reliable as they don't require maintenance or have moving parts. Safe indoor use is a huge plus, eliminating the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. They’re also capable of charging multiple devices and appliances simultaneously, including DC-powered devices through USB.
They can recharge through solar panels, thereby reducing utility costs with an unlimited supply of regenerative energy, so you're always ready for an emergency. Additionally, the affordability of portable power stations wins out over traditional backup electrical systems, and their ease of transport between locations eliminates the need for costly installation fees or permits.
How To Choose The Right Portable Power Station For Your Needs
When choosing a portable power station as your source of backup power, it is important to consider the types of devices you’ll be powering (phones, laptops, a refrigerator, coffee maker, etc), how many devices you'll need to keep powered, and how long you might need to use them.
Make sure that the battery capacity is sufficient enough to handle your requirements; otherwise, you may find yourself running out of juice pretty quickly. Calculate the running wattage of your most power-hungry and essential appliances; you will need a power station that's capable of handling this output continuously.
Both the Anker PowerHouse 757 and Anker PowerHouse 767 models are ideal choices for home backup power. The 1229Wh capacity and 1500W AC output of the PowerHouse 757 can keep essentials powered like lamps, phones, computers, and many kitchen appliances for the typical duration of a power outage. For longer outages, or to reliably power more demanding appliances like a refrigerator, the 2048Wh capacity and 2400W output of the PowerHouse 767 is up to the task. You can also double its capacity to 4096Wh for even greater backup power by upgrading to the 760 Portable Power Station Expansion Battery.
The Essentials Requiring Backup Power
When it comes to winter power outages, having reliable backup power shouldn’t be ignored. Above all, ensure that you have a backup source of power for the following essentials; it could mean the difference between a cozy winter night indoors – or a cold, dark nightmare.
Refrigerators and freezers are among the most important appliances requiring backup energy sources. Without electricity, stored food can spoil quickly, leading to costly losses and potential foodborne illness.
Lights are another necessity for safety and visibility during an outage. In addition to keeping your lamps or outdoor lights on using a portable power station, flashlights or battery-powered lanterns should always be kept on hand for emergency lighting needs.
Heating is a high-priority winter requirement – no one should be without it. Lack of sustainable heat is not only uncomfortable but it can lead to illness like hypothermia—or worse. Many people rely on electric heating systems to warm homes during cold weather months, and without electricity, they may have no other way to stay warm until service is restored. This is reason enough to own a backup power source when the grid goes down.
Communication is vital to stay informed about the current environmental situation and for calling for help if necessary. Without a backup power source, cell phones will eventually lose battery power, and your Wi-Fi signal won’t work as well. That puts you in a potentially dangerous position during an outage.
Medical devices like oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines must be powered by an alternate source of energy during an outage, as they depend on electrical current to operate safely and effectively. If you or a family member relies on such a device for your health and well-being, it’s too risky not to have a backup plan in place.
Water is the essence of life—and losing access to it is not only an inconvenience but can cause major problems. If your home has a well, a portable power station or solar generator can keep the water pump running during a power outage, at least for a few hours when you need it. This means you’ll continue to have water for drinking, cleaning, medical purposes, and other priority functions.
Credit Card Machines
Business owners need to have a reliable alternative source of power for their credit card machines if they want to continue making payment transactions during a blackout. Businesses stand to lose considerable revenue without access to this resource – not to mention the risk of losing trust in their customers.
Having backup power for essential appliances is key in preparing for a winter power outage. While you’re at it, up the ante on preparation by stocking up on other necessary supplies. Keep reading to learn exactly what you need.
Checklist of Winter Necessities
There are certain supplies you should never skimp on in case of a winter power outage. Without them, you may be left without basic necessities and can even put yourself at risk. Whether you have access to backup power or not, here are the essential supplies you should have ready for any situation:
Food and Water
Non-perishable food items such as canned goods, crackers, protein bars, peanut butter, dried fruits and meats
A manual can opener
A cooler with ice packs to store perishable food items
A water supply of at least 1 gallon per person per day, for drinking, cooking, and hygiene
A water filter or water purification tablets in case of water contamination
Flashlights with extra batteries
Candles and matches or a lighter
Portable or hand-crank radio to stay informed about updates and warnings
Whistle and a horn to signal for help
A fully charged cell phone
Battery-powered Wi-Fi hotspot
Heating & Cooking
Portable heaters that run on alternative fuel sources such as propane, kerosene, or wood
Fuel for alternative heaters, such as propane, kerosene, or wood
A fire extinguisher
Blankets and extra bedding
A stove that runs on alternative fuel sources for cooking
Warm clothing, hats, gloves, and extra footwear
First aid kit
Prescription medications, over-the-counter meds, and medical equipment
Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper
Vehicle Emergency Kit
Blankets and warm clothing
Power bank or smaller portable power station
Non-perishable food and water
A flashlight and emergency beacon
A basic first-aid kit
Food and water bowls
Leashes and harnesses
A supply of pet food
Medications and veterinary records
Other Items to Consider
Not all businesses can accept credit cards when there’s no electricity. This means cash becomes king. Withdraw money beforehand just in case ATMs don't work either. Where possible, have enough cash on hand for at least a few days. Being prepared never hurts!
Printed List of Emergency Contacts and Addresses
Don’t put all your eggs in the smartphone basket. If you lose access to your smartphone for some reason, having contact information and addresses printed or written down and stored in a safe place makes communication easier between friends and family during emergencies. It can be difficult to access this information without power.
A well-stocked tool chest or handy gadgets like a multi-tool are great for unexpected situations requiring a screwdriver, pliers, knives, or saw blades. These can be useful when attempting to repair something broken around the house. This could be refitting furniture, or even cutting through thick branches blocking the driveway entrance after a strong wind storm.
Having the right supplies on hand for a winter power outage is not something to overlook. Protect yourself and your family by checking the items off this list one by one, no shortcuts. With the essentials handled, you’re probably wondering exactly how to put all this to use. Let’s continue and take a look at preparing your home or business for a potential winter power outage.
Preparing Your Home or Business for a Winter Power Outage
Without electricity, keeping warm and maintaining essential services during a winter power outage is tough. You’re thrown into a world of discomfort and worry, having no choice but to miserably ride it out until it’s over. This doesn’t need to be you. Prepare for an outage by considering the following options:
Heating Your Home or Business Without Electricity
If you don’t have access to natural gas or propane heating systems, don’t stress out – there are other ways to stay warm during a winter power outage, such as fireplaces and wood stoves.
Make sure that any fireplace is properly vented and the chimney is clean before using it. Have plenty of fuel like firewood or coal on hand where necessary. Alternatively, electric space heaters are a safe way to warm up the indoors when plugged into a portable power station. It’s important to note that alternative heating options like those mentioned must be placed on a flat, stable surface away from flammable materials—and as an added precaution, keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Insulating Your Home
Proper insulation regulates indoor temperature, making it easier to maintain warmth. Insulating your walls and attic helps keep heat from escaping through windows and doors when temperatures drop.
Mind the gaps too! All cracks around windowsills should be sealed with caulk so cold air won’t get inside your home during an outage, and consider adding weather stripping around doors if necessary. Doing this can result in reduced energy bills and outside noise, improved air quality, and of course keeping you warm when it matters most.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Preventing pipes from freezing or bursting is crucial to avoid expensive damage and catastrophe during a winter power outage. Insulate pipes located in unheated areas (attics, basements, crawl spaces, etc) with heat tape on pipes susceptible to freezing. Leaving faucets slightly open so water continues to trickle is also a great hack.
When temperatures drop, conserving heat indoors becomes imperative. Start by closing off rooms used infrequently like guest bedrooms or storage spaces. This helps prevent cold air from entering living spaces where you’ll spend the most time at home or work during a winter power outage.
Use draft stoppers at the bottom of exterior doors, and thick curtains or blankets to cover windows and doorways - both cut down on cold air entry. Be sure to stockpile warm blankets, clothing, and non-perishable food so you’ll not only be comfortable all winter even during an outage but you’re properly prepared for any eventuality.
Before the worst of the winter storm hits, make sure your essential electronics and personal devices are fully charged well ahead of time. These can include smartphones, laptops, rechargeable flashlights/lanterns, rechargeable medical alert bracelets, and so on. Waiting until the last minute can be the difference between proper preparation and being caught with your proverbial pants down. In addition, your portable power station should be one of the first things you have topped off and ready to go, as it may be your only power source during a blackout.
Taking these necessary steps to prepare your home or business for a winter power outage will help you face the many challenges that can arise during a winter power outage. Next up: how do you stay safe during an outage? Let’s discuss.
Staying Safe During an Outage
During a winter power outage, precautions must be taken to ensure your and your family’s safety. As we’ve touched on earlier, this can include having backup sources of light and heat, and having adequate food and water supplies. However, there are other important factors to consider, including carbon monoxide poisoning prevention and keeping warm.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the biggest dangers during an outage, as people often turn to alternative heat sources such as generators or wood stoves without proper ventilation. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure any alternative heating source is used in well-ventilated areas and all fuel-burning appliances are properly vented. As an added precaution, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home and check them regularly to ensure they’re operating normally.
Advice on Keeping Warm
Staying warm during a winter power outage can be challenging, but there are ways to improve the situation:
Wear multiple layers of clothing and use blankets or sleeping bags if necessary.
If you have access to safe heat sources like fireplaces or space heaters, use them instead of ovens or barbecues which could lead to fires if not monitored closely.
While waiting for the power to come back on, make sure you have plenty of food that doesn't require cooking.
Where possible, stay informed on weather conditions well in advance so you can plan appropriately.
Business Continuity Plan for Power Outages
Power outages can be a major disruption to small businesses, especially during the winter months. It’s important for business owners to create and maintain a business continuity plan in case of an unexpected power outage. This plan should include steps for preparing employees and customers, maintaining operations, and protecting data. Let’s break this down into actionable steps.
Identify Essential Functions
The first step is identifying essential functions that need backup power sources to continue operating during an outage. These may include computers, phones, security systems, or other equipment required for daily operations. Once these items have been identified, have portable power sources available to be used as needed.
Use an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Your most critical devices such as a work computer should be plugged into a UPS so your system stays powered and safe even during that heart-stopping split second when the power goes out. A UPS guarantees continuous power, so you won’t have to worry about data loss or harmful electrical surges during a winter power outage.
Conveniently, the Anker PowerHouse 757 and Anker PowerHouse 767 function as UPS systems, both with a switchover time of less than 20ms—so you can feel confident knowing your most valuable business equipment will always stay on.
Communicate Your Plan
Communicating your business continuity plan to employees is integral to its success. Doing so lets everyone know their role in case of an emergency like a winter power outage. Employees should be well aware of who is responsible for setting up the generator or portable power station if needed, and how long they’ll be expected to stay at work until normal operations resume. They should also have a comprehensive understanding of all safety protocols related to using alternative energy sources while working in the dark or under cold weather conditions.
Store Data Securely
Customer contact information should be stored securely offsite so it can still be readily accessed even without electricity at your location. Business owners should consider investing in cloud-based storage solutions to access company data from anywhere, regardless of whether there is a local blackout or not. These little details go a long way to securing your business’s information.
Test and Update the Plan Regularly
When you have your business continuity plan in place, don’t leave out the testing and updating phase. Test plans regularly by running drills and simulations throughout the year, so everyone involved understands exactly what’s required when something unexpected like a prolonged winter storm occurs. Use testing to determine weak spots for improvement, and update your plan annually. Annual updates ensure that any new technologies being used by your business are accounted for when creating contingencies around potential disruptions caused by inclement weather.
Preparing for a winter power outage is essential to keeping you and your family safe, comfortable, and connected during the year’s coldest months. With a reliable portable power station or solar generator from Anker, be assured your home or business will have access to backup power when it's most needed.
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