It could happen any day now...the first big storm of the season and just like that, your family is in the dark! We all know New England winters can be particularly brutal. But are you prepared for a power outage? What if that outage lasts days, or even weeks? Staying safe, warm, dry and fed in extreme weather situations doesn't have to be difficult if you are well-prepared. Read on for our tips below on the best practices to keep in mind going into the winter months.


Turning on your stove for heat is not safe. In the event that your home loses heat, have extra blankets on hand and firewood if you have a fireplace. Use caution with portable space heaters. Only use electric space heaters with auto shut off switches and non-glowing elements. Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water. Never leave young children unattended near a space heater. Keep all heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes. Ensure you have access to a working fire extinguisher and test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly.


Make a family communication plan. Your family may not be together during an extreme winter weather event. It is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, where you will meet and what you will do during an emergency. Choose a meeting place if you cannot get home and store contact phone numbers in a safe place, other than your phone. 


When it comes to the perishable goods in your refrigerator, it's best to exercise caution with what you keep. According to the CDC, meat and poultry should be tossed once the temperature in your fridge reaches 40 degrees or higher for 2+ hours. Even with the power off, a half-full freezer will stay cold for 24 hours, while a full freezer should keep things cool for 48 hours. If you don't want to move items to your freezer or if you are out of room in your freezer, you can pack dairy products, meat, fish and eggs in a cooler with ice. 


Don't forget to check on your neighbors, especially those that are elderly or otherwise unable to care for themselves. Winter weather can be inconvienent, but if you take the right steps beforehand you'll be able to ride out a storm without a problem!