The Dangers of a Winter Ice
Storm and the Resulting Power Outage
by Allan Wright
One of the worst ice storms in many years has just left a path
of devastation from Texas to Kentucky, and has cut electrical power to hundreds
of thousands of people in those states.
Toronto, Canada was also hit hard with freezing rain and drizzle, causing a
build-up of ice on trees that came crashing down on cars, homes and power lines.
An estimated 337,000 people were left without power.
The power was out for days in hardest-hit areas. The National Grid reported
nearly 67,000 customers were without power in New York State, with 16,000
outages in Vermont and 12,000 in northern Maine.
With this huge number of homes with no heat, warming centers were set up at
various community centers throughout the storm's path.
What do we need to know that can truly help us though the next ice storm and
If you must to go outside during or after an ice storm, watch for overhead
branches and wires that could break and fall due to the weight of the ice. It is
always safest to remain indoors.
Unless there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. This number should only be used
if someone is injured or in danger.
Do not go near any wires that are on the ground. Any hanging power line could be
live. Stay well away from wires or anything that is in contact with them.
If there are power lines down in your neighborhood, call your utility company.
DO NOT GO NEAR THEM YOURSELF.
Dress to stay warm with boots or shoes with rubber soles. Wear layers, including
a sweater, sweatshirt and a jacket. You lose heat through your hands and the top
of your head. Wear gloves and a knitted hat.
Stay tuned to local radio stations for weather advisories and warnings. Your
battery-powered radio will keep you informed on when the power might be
restored. (Is it in your emergency kit?)
Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside
your refrigerator should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed. A full
freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 30 hours if the door remains closed.
Unplug most of your major appliances and all electronic equipment. When the
power comes back on, there may be a power surge. This can harm sensitive
equipment and electric motors.
Turn off all lights; leave one light on so you'll know when the power is
Turn thermostats down to minimum to prevent damage when power is restored.
If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. DO NOT
USE kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any outdoor type heater inside your home. Do not
run a generator inside your home or garage. Carbon Monoxide can seep into your
home from the garage.
Sterno cookers and charcoal-burning devices are especially dangerous. These
devices all create large amounts of poisonous gases. Carbon monoxide is an
odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion, it can and will kill.
Make sure your home has at least one working carbon monoxide detector that has
If you must use candles, use proper candle holders and keep out of reach of
children. Never leave lit candles unattended, even for a minute.
After the lights go off is not the time to discover that the flashlight
batteries are dead and that there isn't a candle or lantern in the house.
We must all plan ahead so that we will be ready for just such an emergency. A
few simple steps, taken now, can make a power outage far less trying for you and
Your home Emergency Kit should include a battery powered radio and flashlight, a
supply of batteries, candles, matches, a first aid kit and a manual can opener.
Food and water are vital to your well-being. Enough drinking water and food
supplies should be kept on hand to provide for your family for several days.
Go and check your home emergency survival kit right now!
Remember your hot water tank has a good supply of fresh water in it, if your
community's water system fails.
Allan Wright is a qualified writer with a keen interest in Family Health and
Safety. Presently as the Project Manager for
Aid Kit Products, his articles reflect many of his thoughts and views
concerning all avenues of Family Safety and Disaster Preparedness.
Take the first step and order your
Family Preparedness Supplies now.