Some After Storm Thoughts And Tips

Posted at 7:06 PM, Dec 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-22 19:06:03-05

WEST MICHIGAN — While Michigan sees its fair share (most of the time) of winter weather, thankfully it’s not too often that a huge storm impacts the region for days with lingering damage and problems. That said, the effects of this winter storm will unfortunately linger for days due to widespread power outages. Here’s a couple of things we should all keep in mind after a storm like this. Most of these are common sense, but not all are common knowledge…so here goes.

If you or someone you know has lost power for an undetermined amount of time, don’t be too quick to vacate the premises. After all it is your home. It keeps you safe from the elements, all your belongings and clothes are there, and you may not have the funds for heading out to the nearest hotel. Keep this in mind. Temperatures will quickly fall without heat in the house. Remember we have water pipes in the house? If it drops below 32, the pipes could freeze and substantial damage could result. You’d have far bigger problems than just the no heat you left for. Do whatever you can to keep some type of heat in the house. Small portable, perhaps battery operated heaters, or a gas fireplace. Anything to prevent you from leaving and the pipes from freezing.

I noticed after the November severe wind storm that West Michigan had, many folks that lost power were throwing out food from the fridge and freezer. Here’s another thought. Pack it up, perhaps in a plastic tub, seal it, and place it outside. Our temperatures will be more than adequate the remainder of this week to keep things both cold and frozen. Don’t lose hundreds of dollars in spoiled food, put it in the cold for free!

While many of us cannot afford expensive high-end generators, let me make a suggestion. You can always BBQ on the grill outside if you have an electric stove and the power is out, so none of us will stave. That said, we can’t live at home with no heat. Make a simple investment…protect your family and property. Buy a small 1,000 watt or 1,500 watt generator that is just enough to run the electric fan motor on your furnace. Many of us have furnaces that are gas or propane, but they need electricity to run a simple fan motor. These motors are typically low power/low current, and can function fine by a small generator. Don’t try plugging everything in to it! The goal is to take the chill out of the house, shut it down for a few hours, then repeat the cycle. And remember…NEVER run the gas-powered generator in the house, garage, or basement. It contains carbon monoxide fumes that can kill. It needs to be outside! You’ll simply need an extension cord to run from the furnace area long enough to reach. Just make sure to get an electrician or friend knowledgeable to wire it so the next time you lose power, you’re ready to go.

Truth be told…it was on my list to do this for years but always got pushed to the back burner. When our house lost power in the November wind storm, I finally pulled out the generator (new in the box from five years ago), wired in a furnace plug (in the cold and darkness), and it fired up immediately. Candles did the rest to light our way! Another great tip. When you use candles for lighting purposes, place them in front of a mirror. It will reflect the light and give you twice the illuminance.

Of course if you can spring for a little bigger generator like a 2,000 to 3,000 watt for $299, they will afford you the opportunity to use it during the summer months for things like a refrigerator and freeze. As an example here’s one for $229. Protect yourself and your investment. You’ll spend far more if all the food goes bad in the fridge and freezer. Good luck!