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Are You Ready For Winter Weather?

With winter in full swing, now is the time to make sure you are prepared for any storm that comes your way. The last two years has shown that power can be out for extended periods of time. With that, there are several things you can do to prepare.


If you utilize medical devices, please contact FREED at 530-477-3333. They may be able to provide you with a backup power bank. If you take prescription medications, be sure to have at least a two week supply of medication on hand.  If you are a resident who utilizes oxygen,  be sure to contact your local electric company and health care provider to see if they can provide a battery backup for you and if they can assist in any other way (oxygen delivery/ extra tanks, etc). PG&E advises residents who utilize oxygen to sign up for their “Medical Baseline Program” in which you receive advance notification of a power outage (in a PSPS event). Also, do plan to have a backup location where you can stay if necessary.


With the power out, many of us are left with utilizing our fireplace or woodstove to keep our house warm. Stock up on dry firewood! If you do not have a fireplace or woodstove, be sure to keep sleeping bags, blankets, jackets, and winter attire on hand. If your house becomes too cold, plan to stay with family or friends, or visit a local warming shelter.


Make sure you have enough flashlights, lanterns or other light sources and keep them in an easily accessible place. Make sure you have enough batteries to last. If you are utilizing candles, use them safely. Make sure the candles are in a safe, sturdy holder away from anything that can catch fire. Never leave a candle unattended and make sure they are out of reach of kids and pets. Never use candles in a household where oxygen is used.


The best way to prepare for winter storms is to stock up on non-perishable food.  Canned foods and dehydrated foods are good options. If you have perishable foods, be sure to keep them cool with ice or snow. Also, ensure you have enough drinking water! One tip you can do it to freeze gallon jugs before the power goes out and place in refrigerator/freezer to help food last longer when the power does go out. Fill your bathtub with water before the power goes out so you have water for cleaning.


Always keep track of your propane levels. It’s never fun to run out of propane, especially during a winter storm. Get on a list with your local propane company with auto-refill. Make sure your tank is full.


Be sure to get your vehicle a tank of gas before a storm hits. If you drive an electric vehicle, keep your battery charged as well as you are able. Make sure you stock up on fuel for your generator, snow blower and chainsaw. Only travel when the roads are clear.


Keep items like a snow brush, ice scraper and snow shovel ready to go. Make sure walkways and driveways are kept clear. Also, consider parking at the bottom of your driveway (or closer to the road) as it can help you leave easier, especially with a steep driveway.


Make sure your headlights and windshield wipers are in working order. If you don’t have to leave, please stay home.  If you must travel during a storm, assume there will be delays. Be sure to pack blankets, food, water, shovel, tow straps and winter gear to stay warm. During a storm, it is common for trees and downed lines to block roadways. Always assume the downed lines are energized. Always carry chains. 


Portable Generators:  This type of generator must be started manually when power goes out. Before you start the generator, read and follow the manufacturer instructions. Ensure that the total electric load on the generator does not exceed the manufacturer's rating. Also, never run in an enclosed space and always keep direct exhaust away from your home. Carbon monoxide kills. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak, get to fresh air immediately.  Make sure extension cords are properly sized to carry electric load to avoid overheating. Before refueling, make sure generator is off and has had a chance to cool.

Built-In Generators: This type of generator installation requires a licensed electric contractor and building permits. Make sure your generator was installed on high ground, where flooding is not likely to be a concern. The electrical transfer switches safely switch electrical load from your power provider to the generator. Prevent back-feeding lines by installing a "double-pole, double-throw transfer switch." Notify your local utility provider to let them know about your backup system. These types of generators automatically go on when the power is out.


Lithium batteries can be a useful source of electricity during power outages as you can use the backup power to run lights and appliances. There are several advantages over generators as they are being less noisy, more reliable and have zero emissions. Solar panels along with lithium batteries are a good combination when electrical grids are down. These batteries can hold a lot of power and last a very long time. If they are not used correctly, they can catch on fire or explode. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions. Only use the charging cord that comes with the device. Make sure batteries are put in correctly and never charge the device on a bed or couch. If the batteries change color, there is an odor, change in shape, the battery is leaking or it makes odd noises, stop using immediately and call 9-1-1.


Without power, communication can be non-existent for some residents. Use a batter powered radio tuned to local stations to keep you informed of the conditions. Keep battery banks charged so devices like cell phones and tablets can operate. Conserve batteries when not in use by putting them in airplane mode.


Be a good neighbor. Look out for one another, check on others who may need an extra bit of help during the storm.

Phone Numbers to Have On Hand:

  • Propane Company
  • Emergency Tree Service
  • Snow Plow
  •  Telecommunications
  • Firewood
  • Vehicle and Home Insurance

Helpful Links:

California Highway Patrol: Traffic Incident Page

Caltrans Road Information: or 1-800-427-7623  for current highway conditions

National Weather Service:  Weather Alerts

Weather Underground:  Nevada County Weather

Nevada County OES: Emergency Updates

KNCO 830 AM: Local Radio

KVMR 89.5 FM: Local Radio