ConsumerReports.org | By Paul Hope | Published February 18, 2021 | Updated January 5, 2022
- Never use a generator indoors or within 20 feet of your house.
- Have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every floor.
- If you use your car to stay warm or charge devices, make sure it’s outside the garage.
- Never use a device (such as an oven) to produce heat unless that’s its intended purpose.
- Indoor portable heaters should have an automatic shutoff switch in case they tip over.
Winter storms leave thousands of Americans without power each year, but there are several steps you can take to stay warm and safe.
The biggest threat from a power outage, of course, is the lack of heat. But even during an extended outage, there are ways to survive the cold.
The danger is that some alternative heating systems pose their own threats, such as fire and carbon monoxide. But there are precautions you can take to minimize the danger.
Here are five ways to stay warm—and safe—during a power outage.
1. If You Can, Get a Generator
Even if you’ve already lost power, it’s not too late to look for a portable generator. Sales always spike during weather emergencies, but it’s still worth trying.
Some major retailers have told CR that they’re able to reallocate the supply of generators to affected areas in as little as a day or two. A good strategy is to show up early at a store to grab one before they’re sold out.
If you’re fortunate enough to find a portable generator, use our guide to get it up and running quickly and safely. Once the outage is over, hire an electrician to install a transfer switch or interlock device so that the generator can power entire circuits in your home, which is both safer and more helpful.
If you can’t find a portable generator at a home center or power equipment dealer, try looking for a recreational generator at places like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, or even at a local RV or boat dealership.
These smaller generators aren’t really designed for power outages, but their output of 1,800 to 2,000 watts is still enough to power a large space heater and charge cell phones, which may be enough to get you through an outage.How to Run a Generator Safely
2. Stay in a Southern-Facing Room
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