How to Prepare for a Snowy or Icy Winter Power Outage in NC

Power outages are likely in winter, especially when large amounts of snow or ice are involved.

How you report a power outage depends on the company supplying you with electricity. If you’re unsure how to report an outage, check out this guide, which covers power companies in the Triangle area.

Keep these tips in mind if you lose power:

If you have a Generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and be deadly.

You should too never use a charcoal grill or camping stove inside, for cooking or heating. Like generators, the fumes they produce can be toxic.

If you smell of gas at any time during a power or other outage, leave your home immediately and call your utility provider.

During a breakdown, do not open refrigerators or freezers unless absolutely necessary. Cold air can escape, allowing food to thaw and spoil faster.

What to have on hand in case of a power outage

Don’t forget to keep a battery operated radio and extra batteries on hand so you can receive emergency alerts even when the power goes out.

Flashlights are also essential for you to have a source of light during power outages.

In addition to these essentials,, part of NC Emergency Management, recommends keeping the following items in your basic emergency kit always:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for three to seven days)
  • Food (supply of non-perishable and canned goods for three to seven days)
  • Mobile phone with charger
  • First aid kit
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Wrench or pliers (or water meter wrench) to turn off the water
  • Blanket or sleeping bag (one per person)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Glasses or contact lenses and solution
  • Seasonal change of clothes, including sturdy shoes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Additional house and car keys
  • Important documents, including insurance policies, a copy of your driver’s license, social security card, and bank statements. It is useful to digitize these recordings and keep them on a USB key for safe storage and easy transport.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash and currency
  • Books, games or cards

For winter storms, add these items to your kit:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on driveways
  • Sand to create traction on sidewalks
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
  • Warm clothing
  • Additional blankets

During the Covid-19 pandemic, you’ll also want to keep these items in your kit:

  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes

If you have a baby or toddler, be sure to also include items in your emergency kit:

  • Formula
  • bottles
  • Layers
  • Baby wipes
  • Lollipop
  • Soap and/or baby powder
  • Clothes
  • Blankets
  • Preserves and juices

If someone in your family has functional needs, be sure to include items they might need, including:

  • Container for hearing aid or cochlear implant processor (to keep them dry)
  • Extra batteries for hearing aid or cochlear implant
  • Communication card explaining the best way to communicate with the person

Don’t forget your pets. Include these items for your four-legged friends:

  • Canned or dry pet food
  • Water for three to seven days
  • food dishes
  • Collar, leash and/or harness
  • Immunization records
  • Identification tag (must contain the name of the animal and your telephone number)
  • Current photos of your pets, in case they get lost
  • Medication your pet needs
  • Pet beds and toys
  • pet carrier

You will also want to have plenty of heating fuel.

  • Stock up on a supply of dry, dry wood for your fireplace or woodstove, if you have one.
  • If you run on gas, refuel before driving empty. Fuel carriers may not be able to reach you during a storm, or even for days after.

How to keep your home warm during a power outage

The National Weather Service recommends the following safety tips if you lose Heat:

Close rooms you are not using to avoid wasting heat.

Fill towels or rags in the slots under the doors.

Close blinds or curtains on your windows to retain some heat.

Eat and drink. Food provides the body with the energy it needs to produce its own heat. Drink plenty of water and other non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages to prevent dehydration. The cold air is very dry.

wear diapers loose, light and warm clothing. Remove layers to prevent overheating, sweating and subsequent cooling.

Check out our complete winter survival guide at

This story was originally published January 14, 2022 7:45 a.m.

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Korie Dean is a reporter with The News & Observer’s service journalism team. She is a graduate of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill and a lifelong North Carolina.

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