Almost Half of Americans Not Prepared for Winter Storm Power Outages, Survey Finds

Nov. 7-11 is Winter Awareness Week in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE(November 7, 2011) — Forty-five percent of families who live in an area subject to extreme winter weather do not have a secondary source of heat available in their home to endure a prolonged winter power outage, according to a recent GE Generator Systems survey.  Secondary heat sources could include a generator, gas fireplace, or stocked wood burning stove or fireplace.

The survey, conducted prior to Wisconsin’s Winter Awareness Week Nov. 7 to 11, also found 64 percent of families did not have an emergency preparedness kit at home. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Campaign advocates that families have an emergency kit prepared prior to the winter storm season.

“Properly preparing for an emergency situation before it occurs goes a long way to ensuring families stay safe,” said Carissa Gingras, marketing manager at Briggs & Stratton, the exclusive licensee of GE Generator Systems. “It’s especially important in the winter months to prepare ahead of time for possible power outages, which can leave families without a viable heat source.”

Briggs & Stratton and GE are coalition members of the Ready Campaign.

The Ready Campaign says all emergency preparedness kits should include non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. But additions to the kit in preparation of the winter season include:

  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
  • Adequate warm clothing and blankets

The GE Generator Systems survey reached 2,004 United States households with children under the age of 17.

Other findings from the survey related to winter weather preparedness included:

  • Of the respondents who live in areas with extreme winter weather, 64 percent have experienced a winter power outage of 12 hours or more in the last two years.
  • Sixty-one percent of respondents said winter was the most stressful season to endure a power outage of 12 hours or more with children.
  • If their home’s pipes froze today, 29 percent of those surveyed said they would not know what to do.
  • Blankets were the most common method of keeping warm (69 percent) for those who have experienced a winter power outage in the last two years, followed by layering clothes (62 percent); and fireplace (33 percent). Twenty-eight percent used a generator to keep their home powered during winter outages.

The survey did find that families are more likely to prepare for a power outage if they have endured an outage in the recent past. More than half of respondents — 56 percent — who have experienced a power outage of at least 12 hours in the past two years said they were motivated by the event to make preparations for a future outage.

Data for this survey was collected by Harris Interactive Service Bureau (HISB) on behalf of Client.  HISB was responsible for the data collected and Client was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting.