CORVALLIS - Don't wait until the weather outside grows frightful, the lights go out and the cold seeps in to discover that you aren't prepared for a power failure this winter.

"Coping with Winter Power Failures," a new brochure from the Oregon State University Extension Energy Program, can help you and your family weather power outages, whether those outages last for short or long periods of time.

The brochure goes beyond good-sense tips of stocking extra batteries and candles to important information about safe space heaters, unsafe space heaters, potential dangers of some improvised heat sources and how to treat foods during a power failure to reduce the chance of spoilage.

Among the tips in the brochure:


  • Designate an area in the house that is warm and easy to find in the dark. Close off the adjacent rooms to conserve heat.
  • Once the power fails, turn off all the lights, television and electronic equipment. Unplug your computer to avoid damage when the power returns.
  • Longer-term power failures mean possibly draining plumbing lines to prevent pipes from freezing and cracking.

The brochure contains important dos and don'ts about space heaters and emergency heat sources, including which to avoid. For example, turning on the burners on your gas stove could cause seepage of poisonous carbon monoxide fumes.

Also, don't connect portable generators into electrical outlets to feed electricity back into household wiring. Not only is this illegal, it could electrocute utility workers. The brochure describes how to hook up generators safely.

For a free copy of the brochure, call the OSU Extension Energy office at 1-800-457-9493.

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Dave Brook, 503-227-0731