Chances are, you've experienced a power outage at some point in your life. Growing up in Ohio, I remember several times when thunderstorms blew out electricity. My parents pulled out a couple flashlights and we'd play cards until the lights came back on a few hours later.
The type of power outages the historic Halloween weekend snowstorm created across the Northeast require a lot more planning and patience than a couple rounds of "Go Fish" can offer. Long-term power outages can have dangerous consequences, and unfortunately most people don't even consider the idea of days - or even weeks - without power until they're living through the nightmare.

"We are most worried about long-term power outages during the fall and winter months. The colder temperatures mean there's a greater need for heating," meteorologist Tim Ballisty explains. "We worry about people seeking alternative, sometimes dangerous ways to heat their homes."
Ballisty says time after time, people misuse generators, grills and fireplaces, which lead to accidents like fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The dangers are already playing out after the Halloween weekend storm. Ten people were hospitalized for exposure to carbon monoxide in Meriden, Conn. Police say they were using a generator in the basement of their two family home. In a separate case, the death of an 80-year-old woman in Enfield, Conn. is also blamed on carbon monoxide.
Ballisty says there are five big mistakes people make. If you're dealing with a long-term power outage, remember:
  • Space heaters lead to increased an threat of a house fire.
  • When you bring in a barbecue grill to cook, you are raising the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • When you bring a generator indoors for power needs, you are raising the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • People leave the fireplace damper closed before going to bed, which allows combustion exhaust from hot ashes to filter back into the house, raising the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Dirty, poorly cleaned chimneys are full of blockage and will also allow combustion exhaust to seep back into the home, leading to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning

You can also expect long-term power outages to impact your communication with the outside world. Even if a storm hasn't knocked out cell service, your phone is only good if it has juice. Same thing for your home desktop or laptop. Investing in external batteries and car cell phone chargers is a good idea.
Stocking up on foods you don't have to put in the fridge is also a must. Both the CDC offer easy guidelines to help you determine whether your food is safe after a power outage.
The same storm that hits your home power source may have also left your community in a bind. Businesses, including banks and gas stations, may lose power. In the days before a winter storm hits, it's always a good idea to make a run to an ATM for cash and to swing by a gas station to and fill your tank at least halfway. It's always best to be over-prepared than to be stranded in a cold, dark home for days on end."