Staying Safe and Warm During a Winter Storm

This year is already showing us how the polar vortex can bring high winds, sub-zero temperatures, and ice to many parts of Michigan. This dangerous winter weather can cause hazardous road conditions, downed power lines, and extended power outages. Be sure to stay safe before, during, and after a winter storm hits.

If power lines go down because of a winter storm and the electricity goes out, you may be in for a prolonged power outage as utility crews work to get the lights back on.

The National Weather Service tells us that winter storms are deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to storms. Many hazards can remain after a winter storm is gone.

Below are some tips on how to stay warm during a winter power outage:

  • Stay inside, and dress warm.
  • Close off unneeded rooms and place draft blocks at the bottom of doors to minimize cold air entering the house.
  • Cover windows at night.
  • Be aware of the temperature in your home. Infants and elderly people are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
  • When the power is restored, there will be a power surge. To protect your circuits and appliances, switch off lights and unplug appliances. Leave one light switched on as a quick reminder that the power is restored.

Apart from the cold, there are other dangers winter storms can bring. Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice, making them difficult to see. Therefore, stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, use caution and treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized. Stay away, warn others to stay away, and immediately contact the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power.

Be sure to have a storm preparedness kit ready before a storm strikes to help get you and your family through a power outage. This kit includes: bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, warm clothing, first aid kit/medicine, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, and toiletries.

If you are using an alternative heating source during a power outage, be sure to know how to use it safely and that you have all needed supplies gathered. You should have enough supplies in your preparedness kit to last three to seven days. The Grand Haven BLP is a proud member of Safe Electricity.

For more information on electrical safety, visit


Bright Ideas for Safe Lighting This Season

Sparkling lights and dazzling decorations are hallmarks of the season. Make sure your holiday decorating is done with safety in mind.

Use only holiday lights that have been safety tested and have the UL label. Before decorating, check each light strand for broken sockets, frayed cords, or faulty plugs. Always be sure to unplug the lights when replacing a bulb. Don’t string together more than three standard-size sets of lights or you could risk overheating the circuit.

Outdoors, use only lights, cords, animated displays and decorations rated for outdoor use. Cords should be plugged into outlets equipped with GFCI’s, or use a portable GFCI if your outdoor outlets don’t have them.

Take extra care not to throw strings of lights over tree branches that are near power lines and service connections.

The Board of Light & Power offers these additional tips for safe holiday decorating:

  • Place fresh-cut trees away from heat sources such as heat registers, fireplaces, radiators, and televisions—and water the tree frequently.
  • Match plugs with outlets. Don’t force a 3-pronged plug into a 2-pronged outlet or extension cord, and never remove the third prong.
  • Keep electric cords out of high-traffic areas. Do not run them through doorways, hide them under carpets, or staple, nail, or tack them to the wall.
  • Always unplug lights before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Make sure extension cords are in good condition and are UL-approved cords rated to carry the electrical load you will connect to them.
  • Don’t let children or pets play with light strands for electrical decorations.

Overloaded circuits are a major cause of fire. Flickering or dimming lights, sparks from appliances or outlets, and wall plates, plugs, or cords that are warm to the touch are warning signs that demand immediate action.

If you spot an electrical danger, make sure to unplug the malfunctioning appliance immediately and get a replacement.

Let’s keep the Holidays Merry & Bright! These Safety tips have been brought to you by the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power, your Community-Owned Electric Utility.

The Board of Light & Power is a member of

Keep Warm Air in Your Home & Money in Your Pocket

When the harsh cold winds of winter blow, having a nice warm home in which to retreat is great. The only problem is making that home cozy and warm can be expensive. With some preparation and work before winter hits, you can reduce your energy use, and save money. It is worth making sure your home heating system is as efficient as possible to prevent the waste of energy and your hard earned money.

Start by locating air leaks. Some of the air leaks can easily be fixed yourself with caulking and weather stripping. Other leaks might take a contractor’s help to repair. Some common areas to find air leaks include:

  • Behind or under knee walls
  • The attic hatch
  • Wiring holes
  • Plumbing vents
  • Furnace vents
  • Dryer vents
  • Recessed lights
  • Windows and doors

There are other steps you can take to save on your electric bill and increase the efficiency of your home as well. One of the easiest solutions is to make sure the furnace filter is clean. Clean or change the filter monthly to keep air flowing freely. Dust and dirt slow down air flow, which makes the system work harder and ends up wasting energy and costing you money.

Another step you can take is to install a programmable thermostat. This can help automatically turn the heat down when no one is home and turn the heat up when you need a warmer home. Go to  to download our rebate application for a programmable Thermostat and receive a $15 rebate incentive.
Finally, when it comes time to replace your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, invest in energy-efficient equipment that will help you save money on heating bills. EnergyStar recommends having your HVAC system evaluated if it is over 10 years old or if it is not keeping your home comfortable. If your system needs to be replaced, talk to your installer about getting the most efficient unit you can afford.

For more information on the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power Energy Smart Program and to view our step-by step Guide go to