Prepare Your Home with this Power Outage Checklist

President Obama has declared September National Preparedness Month to remind everyone to make a plan for unforeseen events. Floods, hurricanes, and fires do happen – though hopefully never to you – so having an emergency plan with a checklist and preparing an emergency kit can make a huge difference in your family’s safety and comfort.

Power outages in particular affect everyone from time to time and can be especially dangerous during winter months in northern climates. In preparation for Power Outage Week Sept. 20-26, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prepare.

Plan Ahead
Just like you should have a winter survival kit in your vehicle, you also need an emergency kit in your house for use during a power outage; keeping all your supplies are in one place means you won’t be rummaging around in the dark when the time comes. Generally, power outages are relatively short-lived, but your emergency kit should include critical supplies for three days in the event you’re not able to travel to a store or the stores are also out of power.

A household emergency kit should include:

  • A battery-powered radio, plus spare batteries
  • A fully-charged (or battery-powered) portable cell phone charger
  • Candles and matches
  • A flashlight with spare batteries
  • Ready-to-eat shelf-stable food, like granola, snack bars, trail mix, nuts, canned fruit or juice, and peanut butter and crackers
  • A manual can opener
  • Bottled water
  • Cash, as ATM machines and credit card readers may not work
  • A first aid kit
  • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer
  • Extra batteries for lighting the pilot on your Heatilator gas fireplace with intermittent pilot ignition (see owner's manual for sizes and instructions)

Keep in mind that your kit will need to be refreshed periodically to make sure the food, batteries, and wet wipes are still good. The beginning and end of daylight savings time may be good prompts for you to review your kit to make sure it is ready if the need arises.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration has a complete disaster response kit list that can help you prepare in the event you are displaced from your home. In that case, your kit should include provisions for your pets and critical supplies such as prescriptions, plus baby formula and diapers if applicable.

During the Power Outage
When the eerie silence sets in, don’t panic. Grab your emergency kit, light your candles and turn on your battery-powered radio for updates. Using your cell phone, call your utility provider to make sure the outage has been reported. They may also be able to tell you how long the outage is expected to last. If it’s a long outage, consider calling a family member or friend to let them know you are without power. If conditions are safe, consider moving to a location that has electricity.

If it is consistently colder outside than it is inside your refrigerator or freezer, keep your food safe for consumption by storing it outside in a portable cooler. If the food gets too warm or smells a little off, be sure to throw it out.

In addition to food safety, staying warm and keeping your pipes from freezing are major concerns during a winter power outage, and a gas fireplace is a great way to keep your home warm. Fireplaces with a standing pilot can be manually lit to activate the pilot and flames. If your fireplace was manufactured in recent years, it may have an energy-saving intermittent pilot ignition system, which requires electricity to spark the pilot flame. Many Heatilator gas fireplaces have IntelliFire™ intermittent pilot ignition systems with battery backup systems for lighting the pilot and flames during power outages. Consult your model’s owner’s manual (available online) or your local hearth dealer for more information and instructions.

If your hearth appliance has been exposed to water in any level, please contact your local dealer. For your safety, Hearth & Home Technologies products that have been partially or completely exposed to water, whether by flood, hurricane or leaks should not be used. Click here for warranty information.

Now that you know how to prepare for a power outage, put your plan into place. Tuesday, Sept. 30, is National PrepareAthon! Day – the perfect time to take action. And while you’re at it, read up on these tips for Gas Fireplace Safety. You can never be too prepared!