You are at home, watching a movie or cooking dinner, and POW! The power suddenly goes out! Now what?

With all our technological advancements and improved power grid infrastructure, it has become a more commonplace occurrence for power to go out during winter storms. To prepare yourself to handle a power outage transition, it is highly recommended that you build a winter weather emergency kit. What is considered essential may be different for most people, but there are some very basic items that would be helpful to have ready to go.

Your emergency winter weather kit should include:


Having multiple flashlights in the kit or strategically placed around the house for family members, who know where they are, can help avoid a panic situation, especially for younger children. Just make sure that the batteries are fresh.


If you have candles ready to go, you will, of course, want to have matches or lighters that are easily accessible.

Portable radio to check for news and weather updates

Some special radios are available with solar batteries and small hand cranks to generate enough power to run the radio.

Spare batteries

‘Fresh’ spare batteries

Enough canned or non-perishable food items, and clean drinking water to last several days for your family — and a can opener if the cans don’t have pull tabs

Unless you like cold soup or other canned food that we typically eat hot, choose foods that do not require cooking since you may not have a heat source

Water in plastic bottles or jugs does have an expiration date. Check to make sure that your water supply is current. NOTE: Have enough water on hand for light hand or dish washing is a good idea. Pool water or slowly melted snow can be a good source for this purpose.

Extra blankets and cold-weather clothing in case you are without heat for a while

Sleeping bags are an excellent resource to have handy.

Power bank(s) to charge cell phones, laptops, and tablets

Have those solar banks charged and ready to go at all times. And to conserve the battery life of those components, keep them off and turn them on only as needed. Playing video games or watching Netflix is going to run those batteries down fast.

Stocked first aid kit (bandages, gauze, pain reliever, thermometer, tweezers, sterile gloves, etc.)

If you or your family members have any special medication requirements, have enough set aside for an emergency that might last a few days. NOTE: Make sure that these medications are up to date and not old. Old medications lose their efficacy.

Not everyone has a generator, but life can be made a little bit easier during a power outage if you have one. Generators come in all sizes and fuel sources. There are smaller gasoline and propane generators that run outside and supply power through extension cords to essential appliances. As a safety concern, make sure that the generator is running as far away from the house as possible. Exhaust from a gasoline-powered generator can produce carbon monoxide, which is poisonous.

There are whole-house generators that are typically installed by professionals and have a back feed into the house to “run” the entire house.

If you have a fireplace or woodstove, have plenty of seasoned, dry wood ready to go. As with all fireplaces and woodstoves, make sure it is inspected on a yearly basis and is safe to use. (refer to: Chimney Fires – Highland Home Inspections (

Additionally, while it is almost always recommended that you stay in your home during a storm, having your car or truck well maintained with the fuel tank filled, and pointed in the right direction out of your home is always good in the event, you need to leave your house.

Having an emergency kit in your car is always a good idea, even when there is no storm pending.

Many emergency car kits are available for less than $50 from Walmart or AAA. An example of a good car emergency kit may have the following items.

  • High-calorie food bars
  • Water pouches
  • Emergency blanket
  • Flashlight
  • 12 hr. Emergency light stick
  • Nitrile gloves
  • An emergency whistle
  • Emergency poncho
  • Tissue pack
  • Emergency communication plan/contacts
  • First-Aid kit
  • Backpack
  • Flares
  • Emergency roadside triangle

Power companies ask that you report a power outage as soon as possible. It may seem obvious that if the entire neighborhood appears to have lost electricity, and the power infrastructure is set up in grids, but your reporting can help identify the source of the problem. They will often have hotlines set up so that you can check in to see when the power may be restored.

So, while nobody enjoys an electrical power outage, being prepared can and does make life a little simpler. If you don’t have an emergency kit, put one together. If you have one, now is the time to check that you have everything you need.

If you have any questions about home inspections, please call to schedule an appointment. One of our ten fully licensed and ASHI-certified inspectors (two Spanish speaking and one Portuguese speaking) would be glad to come out to look at your property and provide a report for you.

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Highland Home Inspections is a Veteran Owned local business with offices in Ellicott City and Prince Frederick, Maryland, and serves Central and Southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Ocean City, and Fenwick Island, DE. Now also in Northern Virginia.