How to prepare your home for a power outage

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 4:40 PM EST
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - With a few days to go before the major winter storm system hits Michiana, fire safety and utility experts are urging the community to plan ahead in the event of power outages.

Clay Fire Marshal Ron Melser said people should have plenty of blankets and appropriate clothing that can be layered to help stay warm.

If the power does go out, a fireplace is safe to use, but generators should only be operated outdoors and 15 feet away from the home.

And ovens should not be used for warming the house.

“I mean, children can get injured by it, you might forget about it,” offered Melser. “So it’s just not a smart thing. Because when you cook in the kitchen, we always tell you never leave your cooking appliances alone. Same thing here. So just don’t heat with your with an oven.”

If heavy snow accumulations happen, Clay Fire recommends people shovel in small increments to avoid heart attacks.

“...especially with multiple feet of snow, heavy wet snow, they call it a ‘heart attack snow,’” he said. “A lot of people have heart conditions that don’t realize it and doing all this, lifting and moving of heavy snow, can actually cause heart issues. It’s actually more strenuous than actually being on a treadmill. So they recommend doing stretching, don’t eat before going out to shovel, don’t smoke while you’re shoveling.”

AEP is currently meeting with its crews and business partners to see if additional lineworkers are available to assist during widespread outages.

The power company also encourages the community to plan ahead by ensuring their generators work properly; charging cell phones before the storm hits; and creating an emergency kit (e.g. a container with blanket, flashlights, and non-perishable food).

AEP spokesman Corey Ohlenkamp stressed the importance of finding an alternative place to stay for people who use electronically-powered medical devices.

“Those are critical for these types of storms. Because although we, you know, plan ahead, we work to make sure that there are limited outages, if any. We know that there’s an inevitability that outages can happen, and more than likely will happen with a storm like this,” said Ohlenkamp.