What happens, what you should do to protect yourself if you lose power in a winter storm

With a mix of winter weather expected this weekend, that also means power at your home could go out.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:55 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:24 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With a mix of winter weather expected this weekend, that also means power at your home could go out.

If that happens, what are things you should do to protect yourself?

First, if you have a generator, only use it outdoors.

“You want to make sure the generator is approximately 20 feet away from the home and importantly have the exhaust pointed away from windows and doors. Carbon monoxide build-up is real and can kill within five minutes,” Jacob Squires, an employee at Little Hardware, said.

The odorless and colorless gas can build up indoors.

At Little Hardware in Charlotte, generator sales are expected to go up closer to the weekend.

“When you’re running extension cords from the portable generator into the home, you want to make sure you use an outdoor-rated heavy gauge extension cord and do not ever put the two cords together. Just run one single distance cord,” Squires said.

There are other safety tips to know:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed
  • Don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat your home
  • Disconnect appliances to avoid damage from electrical surges
  • Never run your vehicle inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open

Squires says if you have any fuel around your home, make sure it’s kept in the recommended container. That means no bags, trash cans or buckets.

“Very important to store fuel properly in a proper container and also away from heat sources and open flame,” he said.

It’s also recommended to get rid of old fuel.

“Fuel will go bad in a matter of months. So if it’s been over a few months since you’ve last run your generator and left fuel in it, more than likely it’s not going to be good gas anymore,” Squires said. “So you need to extract that and pour proper fuel per the generator’s manufacturer’s specifications, what fuel needs to be in that generator.”

In case power goes out, officials also urge you to make a plan for medications that may need refrigerated. Also, take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.

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