How to prepare your home for a power outage

A variety of natural disasters, from blizzards and ice storms to hurricanes and heat waves, can damage power lines and leave entire cities in the dark. Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for a power outage.

• Improve insulation. Add caulk and weatherstripping around doors and windows. During an outage, cover your windows with curtains or a blanket to keep the heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer.

• Prepare your fireplace. It should be cleaned at least once a year. A fireplace is a great source of heat, but a buildup of debris along the chimney walls can cause a fire or backdraft. Don’t forget to top up your wood supply before winter. 

• Install carbon monoxide detectors. If you already have them, make sure they work and that you have extra batteries. Never use a propane stove, barbecue or portable generator indoors. 

Ready your sump pump. Make sure it works and install a battery backup system. This will ensure that your basement is protected from flooding during a power outage, especially one caused by a storm with heavy rainfall.

• Protect your plumbing. Purchase non-toxic antifreeze to pour down plumbing fixtures during an outage. This will help prevent the drain­pipes from freezing. Wrap exposed pipes in towels and let the faucets drip to keep water circulating.  

A lengthy power outage may require you to evacuate your home. Before you leave, turn off the main circuit breaker, close the water main and drain your plumbing system.

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