How to Prepare for a Winter Blackout

If you live in the southern portion of the country, a summer power outage would probably be worse than one occurring in the winter.

On the other hand, if you live in the northern portion of the country, a winter power outage would probably be worse than a summer blackout.

At least that’s the conventional wisdom. But last year, Winter Storm Uri slammed the South so hard that folks were barely surviving. In fact, some didn’t.

The good news is, there are some things you can do right now – with at least two more months of winter weather ahead – to make any blackout more manageable. 

We’re all dependent on electricity 

Most of us forget how much we depend on electricity. Until the power goes off, that is. Then it all comes screaming back at us.

Whether it’s lighting, heat or cooking. Working, communicating or being entertained. Just about everything is dependent on a supply of electricity.

I’ve frequently heard people say that an extended power outage would plunge us back into the 1800s. Actually, it would be worse than that. Folks back then knew how to live without electricity. We don’t.

Hopefully any power outage you experience this winter will be short-lived. But there’s no guarantee of that. And even if the blackout only lasts a few hours or a half-day, you need to be prepared for it.   

9 ways to get ready for an outage

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways to prepare – in advance – for a winter power outage.

  • Weatherize your home with weather-stripping around doors and windows to eliminate drafts. Make sure walls and the attic are insulated. Keep your garage door closed, but make sure you can open it manually.

  • Have plenty of reliable batteries on hand. Stock up on the ones that power the devices you are most likely to need in a blackout. Such as flashlights, radios, smoke detectors, etc. If those batteries are rechargeable, all the better.

  • Make sure your standard radios, emergency radios, flashlights, battery-powered lanterns and other items are in good working order.

  • Keep your gas tank filled. Many people who recently got stranded on I-95 in Virginia wish they had done this. Even if you can get to a gas station, pumps might not work in a power outage.

  • Speaking of your car, keep water and non-perishable food in an easily accessible place. Plus blankets, hats, gloves and boots. As well as a cellphone charger, first-aid kit and foldable snow shovel.

  • Consider how you will provide heat to your home during a blackout. Even if it’s only in a couple of rooms. 

  • Stockpile plenty of clean drinking water and survival food in a cool, dark in your home where pests can’t get at it. If you have canned food, make sure you have a manual can opener handy. 

  • Without a lot of heat in your home, water pipes are in danger of freezing. Make sure they are insulated. Allow a small drip from each faucet to continue during the blackout. Moving water is far less likely to freeze. Open cabinet doors under sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms. 

  • Last but certainly not least, purchase a portable, solar-powered generator. It will make any blackout situation much easier to deal with.

Any of us could experience a winter power outage. Extreme weather is the most likely cause, but there are plenty of others. We can’t stop a winter blackout from occurring. But we can prepare for it. And if it happens, we’ll certainly be glad we did.


  • Ed Teis - January 23, 2022

    Last year at the end of the winter season we had a stretch of -8 deg F. As luck would hav our 26 year old underground propane piping developed a large leak such that we were having to use other means of heat for the house. Our systems are dual fuel so we used the heat pump system for most of the winter but that did not work at -8 so we used the fire place and some electric ceramic heaters to provide localized heat.

    Then I remembered that wen had purchased two Mr. Buddy catalytic propane heaters we had never used so we opened the box installed the propane tanks and inserted batteries in the heaters for the circulation fan and we were off to the races. These heaters will use up two tanks at half heating output. So after three days my stash of propane canisters was gone and an internet search produced some sources with scalping prices for replacements. Being retired we were not going to waste our savings that way and as luck would have it one of my prepper friends had a stash that I borrowed which got us through. When the tanks became available I bought three cases.

    We live in a rural community so power and water outages are something common for us so we stock water in 55 gallon tanks and we have a generator, however with the propane leak no generator. I have now replaced our generator, the propane piping and am in the process of adding another 500 gallon backup propane tank. I have added more food and water to our stores and am going to add an emergency pumping system to our water system and a way to take a hot shower. Its tough to plan for all situations but we are giving that a good old college try. ET

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