As Winter Storm Gia continues to bear down on mid-Missouri, thousands of residents in Columbia have been left without power.
In a release Saturday afternoon, the City of Columbia said “numerous power outages” had been caused by the storm, mostly due to snow-covered trees sagging onto nearby power lines. As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Columbia Power and Light said about 8,000 customers were affected.
If you are affected by a power outage during the winter storm, we’ve compiled a number of tips from FEMA and other emergency management agencies:
- Wear a hat; lots of body heat escapes from the head.
- Dress for the weather. Wear sweaters, coats and mittens or gloves as necessary.
- Shut the doors to rooms in your home which are prone to drafts of cold air, like sunrooms or walkout basements with French doors.
- If you are concerned about pipes inside your house freezing, wrap them with towels or newspaper.
- Open refrigerators and freezers as little as possible to close to their current temperature. If you are concerned that perishable foods are getting warm, snow drifts can be used to store cold food, but be aware of wild animals and the risk of bacterial cross-contamination from foods like red meats and poultry.
- Consider unplugging electronics like TVs or computers to protect them from potential surges as power comes back online.
- Keep a close eye on yourself and your loved ones for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you are concerned, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance.
- If you use insulin or other medications that must be refrigerated, check out CDC guidelines for their safe storage in an emergency.
If you still currently have power, but are concerned about the possibility of losing electricity, there are a number of precautionary measures you can still take:
- Plug in USB battery banks, phones and other emergency contact devices to charge and take stock of flashlights or candles.
- Fill spare containers with water and place them in your refrigerator and freezer to act as “heat sinks” and retain cooler temperatures for a longer period of time.
- Consider unplugging electronics like TVs or computers to protect them from potential surges.
- Place programmable thermostats on “hold” mode to ensure your home has been recently heated if electricity shuts off.
Transportation also continues to be affected by the storm. Columbia’s public transit system will not be running all day Saturday, and rules banning parking on Columbia’s priority snow routes are being enforced — more information about these can be found on the city’s website.
City and state officials are urging residents to remain at home.