Tips to prepare for widespread power outages

Utility poles and power lines (file).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– We have high winds and soaking rains expected for Monday night into Tuesday that could lead to widespread power outages.

Monday morning, even before the storm really arrived, winds were already whipping up waves on the Milford waterfront. In places, the surf was up and underneath where houses have been raised up. Most homeowners did that after previous storms like Irene and Sandy. This incoming storm may not have a name, but it does have people talking. Talking about what these winds might do to power lines.

“Getting a lot of calls about flashlights and lanterns,” said David Katz of Goody’s Hardware in East Haven. “People came in Saturday with a whole bunch of flashlights, we helped them get new batteries, new bulbs, or just replace them altogether.”

Here are some things the Red Cross suggests you do ahead of the storm:

  • Have a kit with a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies all in one place and ready to go.
  • Be sure to fully charge battery powered devices like a cell phone.
  • Get ice to help keep food cold.
  • Know how to use the manual release lever for your garage door.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas in your car or truck.

If your power does go out, do not use candles for light during an outage, they can start a fire. Never use your oven or burn charcoal indoors for warmth. Turn off or disconnect appliances in case of a power surge when the lights come back on and keep fridge and freezer doors closed. They can stay cold for hours on their own.

And if you use a generator, keep it outside your house, not in a garage or basement, and not right near a window. The reason is carbon monoxide, and that means there’s one more thing you should have on hand.

“Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors,” said Katz. “You never know, if it’s close to the house, fumes come in, you always want to be safe and secure.”

Also, plug your fridge and a couple lights into the generator, don’t plug it right into the house unless you have a transfer switch. Otherwise it can back-feed into the power lines and shock the repair crews who are coming out to help you.

In shoreline neighborhoods prone to flooding, think about getting out tonight, or at least parking the car somewhere higher up. It’s strange weather for January. It’s too warm to keep your perishables cold on the back porch, but too cold to go without heat in your home. Both state power companies say they have crews in place and ready to fix any power outages.

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