How to prepare before the next big ice storm freezes you in

Ice Storm - Winter - Power Lines

The weather is getting worse and your family may be at risk. Here are some tips to help you and your family prepare for the next big ice storm. 

If you’re anything like the rest of us, at some point this year you were scrolling through your favorite feed and passed an article about the latest severe weather event. The headline probably exclaimed something about the “worst storm on record” or “strongest storm in history”, and it was likely followed by some images of sheer destruction. We’ve all seen them.

And again, if you are anything like the rest of us, you probably thought to yourself “wow, the weather has been crazy lately!” 

Trust us, you are not alone. 

But did you ever pause over that image of devastation and think to yourself “how would I guide my family through something like this?” or “what would we do if this was happening here?”

You should be.

That feeling of “this is crazy” is not wrong. Far from it. In fact, severe weather events are getting more intense and more frequent. You’ve seen it for yourself. 

Despite the somewhat magical image of the sun shining off fresh icicles in the crisp morning air, ice storms can actually be the most dangerous and damage-causing storms on the planet. In just a few hours an entire region can be paralyzed by icy roads, no power, and so many downed trees that it can take weeks to clear.

The scary part is, these fast-hitting storms can sweep in with little warning, taking trees and power lines with them. And once the power fails, your once-warm and inviting home can transform into an icebox where your loved ones huddle under blankets, struggling to stay warm. Thousands of dollars worth of food will spoil in your freezer, and one after another, freezing pipes will burst, cascading freezing water through the walls of your home.

Only, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Proper preparation, like the information you’ll find below, can see you and your family through ice storms in comfort and safety. 

That is, as long as you listen to that little internal voice that said “what will we do if this happens here?” and accept that the weather you’ve already seen, isn’t the weather you’ll see in the future.

Severe Weather Is Getting Worse, And More Frequent

Most of us can remember several severe weather events that happened in the last few years. It seemed like every few months we were hearing about the latest “Storm of the Century” or “storm of a lifetime”. 

Here are a few severe weather events from just the last nine years:

  • Halloween 2011, a Nor’easter you might remember as “Snowtober," incapacitated the entire northeast region. The storm set snow accumulation records in at least 20 cities. 3.2 million people in 12 states went without power, some lasting over 10 days.
  • January 28-29, 2014, a very rare severe weather event crippled the deep south, dropping inches of ice in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The storm was so severe that 233 consecutive miles of Interstate-10 was closed in both directions.
  • March 2017, a severe Nor’easter blanketed the entire Northeast with snow, breaking several records. Snowfall accumulations topped 30” in many spots, with a staggering 48.4” recorded in Ostego County, NY.

A recent article in The New York Times explored the multiple scientific research studies being published that show a strong upward trend in the frequency of severe weather events. 

So our eyes are not deceiving us: severe winter weather events are definitely on the rise. And when they do hit, there is a good chance they will be more severe and damaging than any winter storms we’ve already lived through. 

Why Ice Storms Should Concern You More Than a Blizzard

Reality: an ice storm is not “just another winter storm.”

First: ice is heavy. A half-inch of ice can add 500lbs to power lines or trees and a full inch means 1,000lbs hanging from everything. Even big trees can’t deal with that amount of weight, and it doesn’t take long before they all start falling. Often taking the power lines with them. 

There is also no getting around the fact that the United States is living with a power grid mostly installed in the 1950’s and patched together with “fixes”. A recent Department of Energy report plainly stated that the increasing severity of weather events is guaranteed to continually increase power outages in affected areas. 

Meaning, during an ice storm, power outages are inevitable. 

Second: We aren’t talking about a few trees falling here. We’re talking about dozens of trees per street, all blocking roads, driveways, and houses. And it can take an hour or more to remove larger trees. If there are live power lines tangled in the tree, that tree has to remain untouched until the power company can cut the power.

Buried under their own mountain of emergency calls, the power company may not get to that tree for days. So, if your house is blocked by that tree, you aren’t going anywhere.

That scenario can repeat thousands of times across a region after an ice storm blows through. 

The final factor is the most obvious one: after an ice storm, everything is covered in ice!

Ice makes it difficult to even go outside, let alone clear roads and downed trees. Iced-over streets are nearly impossible to drive on, and icy driveways and walkways lead to falls that break bones or dislocate joints. 

The reality is, if you can’t go somewhere safely, neither can the power company. Or tree workers, firefighters, police officers - even gas station attendants. Everyone is affected by ice.

It’s not hard to see how these three factors can quickly turn a fun “snowstorm” into a nightmare scenario. 

So what can we do?

We prepare.

Preparing for Ice Storms

When it comes to dealing with ice storms, the most important thing to prepare against is the bitter cold.

Without electricity or another heat source, the temperature inside the average house can fall to uncomfortable levels within hours. Left unchecked, a house can get into the 30's in just a few days.

Don’t fool yourself. It doesn’t have to be arctic-frigid in your house for one of your loved ones to start getting hypothermic. The CDC tells us that hypothermia can set in above 40°. Hypothermia is nothing more than your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. So if your loved ones feel cold, then they can also get hypothermia.

Don’t leave that to chance by saying “well that will never happen to us”.

Prepare For The Cold With These Easy Tips:

  • Keep a stockpile of warm blankets in central locations. Pick blankets of thick wool, feather down or fleece because they offer the better best insulation.
  • Find a central spot in your home you can close off. Smaller rooms, with the windows, doors and hallways blocked off with blankets, can be much easier to heat. Pick this ahead of time and put blankets there.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for alternate heat sources and be very clear in how to operate them! Using a fuel-burning heat source indoors can very easily produce deadly carbon monoxide gas, which is colorless and odorless. A buildup can spell death for everyone in the house. Read all warning labels and instruction manuals, closely. 
  • Keep enough water and food on hand for at least a week. Without power, your pipes may freeze, so fresh water may become a limited resource. Store extra. Easy-to-heat meals and simple carbohydrates are also easy to store and can become go-to snacks that will keep your family fed. Malnourished people are more likely to develop hypothermia, and shivering requires energy. Don’t be afraid to store more than you think you’ll need.
  • Create plans for your more vulnerable loved ones. Small children and older adults are at greater risk for cold-related injuries and death. Put together plans ahead of time to get to your at-risk loved ones before the storm and get them to a place where they will be safe. 

The Ultimate Step in Ice Storm Preparation

If you noticed earlier, most of the risks from ice storms come from having no electricity in your house. Power outages rob your home of all the resources you would normally use on a cold day to stay warm, stay connected, and remain productive. 

Reality: Once the power goes out, you are on your own to solve your own problems.

So, instead of relying on the aging power grid that suffers more power outages than any other developed nation, on earth, you can take matters into your own hands. Armed with a good standby generator, you can guarantee your family’s safety on your terms by keeping the power on no matter what happens. 

Widely considered the gold standard in storm preparation, whole home generators are the single most important investment a family can make against winter disasters. Fueled by a nearly limitless supply of natural gas, these generators automatically turn on, and take over during a power outage. 

Out of town on business? Trapped at the office? Welcome to a worry-free storm. Your generator is right there, ready to take over without anyone having to lift a finger.

Working from home? Kids remote-learning? Keeping the power on means staying connected. Cell sites and communications centers all have backup power sources, so many connection options are still available. 

And picking the right generator can make all the difference. We’re talking about your safety net to prevent disaster. This is the time to go for the best you can find.

For instance, Cummins Home Generators are backed by over 100 years of industry experience building engines and generators designed for extreme conditions. If you’ve seen a firetruck, semi-truck, or even a diesel Ram pickup truck, then you’ve seen a Cummins engine at work. They also make the generator of choice for data centers, major hospitals, and US military bases overseas. If Cummins keeps the lights on at a major hospital, your family will be in the best hands.

Before you can even say “hey the power is out” your generator will be running and providing power. Your lights will come back on and your heat stays running. No matter what.

Just imagine, your house is surrounded by a completely dark neighborhood during a severe ice storm. What is your family doing? They’re grabbing a cold drink from the fridge, microwaving some popcorn, and watching a movie. Warm, safe, and provided for.

Guarantee Your Sanctuary

There is no denying that winter storms are getting more frequent, and more severe. 

The “storm of the century” seems to happen once a winter now, and each one is stronger than the last. With no end in sight, we should worry about making sure our loved ones have what they need to survive the next severe ice storm. We should take those extra steps to prepare for the worst. Because it is coming.

As storms get stronger, losing power is no longer just a possibility. It is an eventual certainty.

How you respond when that storm arrives and cuts off your power, is a matter of how you prepare today. 

Take the tips we provided seriously. Get your plans in place. 

And consider finding your nearest Cummins Dealer for a painless estimate on that gold standard of storm preparation: a reliable whole home generator from a well-known company that also offers financing through Synchrony Bank. You’ll never know if it’s worth it until you need it. 

Don’t wait until that happens.
 

James Warnet

James Warnet is a freelance direct response copywriter and digital marketer who specializes in the emergency services and first responder markets. With almost two decades of experience as a firefighter, James combines professional experience and deep research to help brands connect with their most valued customers. 

5 businesses that can benefit from selling Cummins generators

Cummins dealer discussing home generator

Ninety percent of American business are small- and medium-size. They are the true engines of our economy, employing millions of workers. With many of them looking for new ways to expand their services, generate income and grow their businesses, Cummins home standby and portable generators could be a new source of revenue. 

A Silver Lining in Dark Clouds

According to the Associated Press, power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades, straining our country’s aging power grid. This has increased the frequency and duration of power outages. These frequent outages create a need for reliable backup power for households and other businesses. And for enterprising small- and medium-size businesses, satisfying this need with Cummins generators is a huge opportunity.   

Which businesses could benefit the most from becoming Cummins authorized dealers? Here are our top five:

1. General Contractors — When natural disasters such as ice storms, hurricanes, high winds, forest fires or earthquakes hit, lost power isn’t the only challenge customers face. There is often physical damage to property that must be repaired. When they are helping customers to rebuild, general contractors have an opportunity to estimate home or business’s energy needs and suggest adding a Cummins QuietConnect™ Home Standby Generator. If the customer agrees, the general contractor not only profits from the sale of the generator, but also the labor to install it.

2. Electricians — A good electrician is a trusted source of information. Not only are they experts with the flow of electrons, they often know their customer’s specific electrical setups. After a prolonged power outage, many are often asked “Is there anything you can do to keep my electricity on the next time the power goes out?” Electricians who sell and install Cummins QuietConnect Home Standby Generators can say, “Yes, yes there is.” Installing home standby generators can be another valuable service that electricians provide.

3. Heating & Cooling Contractors — During a power outage, one of the most critical systems knocked offline for home and business owners is their central heating and cooling system. Going without heat or cool air for a long period of time is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous if the temperatures are extreme outside. So, naturally, once power is restored, finding a way to keep the HVAC system on during the next power outage becomes top-of-mind. Since heating and cooling contractors are experts at installing large systems in homes and businesses, adding Cummins QuietConnect standby generators to homes and businesses is a natural way to add another profit center to their businesses.

4. Online Retailers — Up until now, we’ve been discussing standby generators. For businesses that don’t specialize in installing generators permanently into place, Cummins portable generators can be a moneymaker.  While portable generators can be used during power outages, they are better suited to smaller tasks due to their portability. This makes them ideal for camping, tailgating, construction worksites and more. With Cummins’ rugged and reliable reputation, our portable generators are ideal for retailers focused on these market segments.

5. Solar Panel Installers — Most home solar panels are connected directly to the power grid. So, when the power goes out, the solar panels stop providing power. For a backup source of electricity, solar panel installers can either install a solar battery backup, which gets charged by the solar panels, or a home standby generator. Typically, solar battery backups can only power a home for a few hours, so if an area is prone to weather-related outages, a home standby generator such as the Cummins QuietConnect is the better choice.

The Time is Now

With more people than ever looking for backup power generation, now’s a great time to expand your company’s offerings by becoming a Cummins authorized dealer. To learn more visit, cummins.com/partners/dealers.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Ten ways to prepare for rolling blackouts

Cummins service disconnect box mounted on side of house

Heat waves that cause excessive demand for electricity…droughts that make hydropower less available…power grids near active wildfires shut down for safety…aging, overstressed power grids…high winds that snap powerlines…these are all reasons why some parts of the country may face planned power outages this year.  

If you live in an area prone to rolling blackouts, here are some tips to help you ready your family for them: 

  • Sign up for notifications from your local electricity utility — If this service is available from your local utility, it can give you a warning to start preparing before the power goes out. 
  • Download our Power Outage Ultimate Checklist — It provides in-depth information about what to do before, during and after an outage. It even shows you what to do for children, pets and family members with medical needs. You can download it here
  • Stockpile nonperishable food and water — Make sure you have a manual can opener, too. Plan to have enough for everyone so your family can stay hydrated and nourished during the blackout. 
  • Make or purchase ice and coolers — If you have enough warning, make or purchase ice so you can pack some of your perishable food in coolers to preserve it. (A refrigerator will only maintain its internal temperature for about four hours, a freezer for about 48 hours.) 
  • Buy flashlights and extra batteries — Blackouts can be, well, black. Flashlights can be used for safety if you need to move around at night but use them sparingly. Make sure you have enough for every family member.
  • Keep mobile phones charged and gas tanks full — Your phones and your vehicles are your lifelines to the outside world. If you have an EV, make sure it’s fully charged. 
  • Practice manually opening garage doors — If you need to drive somewhere, you first need to be able to get your car out of the garage. 
  • Plan for medications that require refrigeration — You may need to store them in a cooler like your refrigerated food until the power returns. 
  • Invest in a whole-home standby generator — For the ultimate peace of mind, consider one of the Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generators. In the event of a power outage, your generator will automatically switch on and keep your home powered.  
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups — Place them in central locations on every floor so if any carbon monoxide gets in the home, you are immediately alerted. 

Rolling blackouts seem to be becoming more and more common. Fortunately, there are ways to plan ahead and keep them from completely disrupting your life. To see the different ways that Cummins can help your family keep the power on during these planned power outages, visit us at cummins.com/na/generators/home-standby/whole-house-and-portable or find a local dealer at cummins.com/na/generators/home-standby/find-a-dealer

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins Turbo Technologies gears up to launch the 8th Generation Holset Series 400 Variable Geometry Turbocharger

8th generation HE400VGT

As emission regulations become more stringent, Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) is committed to helping customers reduce emissions and advance fuel economy through innovative new air handling technologies.

Built on 70 years of innovation and dependability, CTT and Holset have introduced a wide range of industry leading air handling technologies. In 2021, CTT launched the 7th generation 400 series Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) to help engine manufacturers meet future emission standards and offer best in class fuel economy. At Cummins, innovation never stops as we continue to advance our current technologies, while developing new ones. With this philosophy in mind, CTT is now preparing to introduce the 8th generation HE400VGT. It is specifically engineered to have top of class performance, reliability and durability for the 10-15L heavy-duty truck market.  

CTT has made significant improvements in turbocharger performance with its latest generation of products. The 8th generation turbocharger will have 5 percent improved efficiency over the previous 7th generation turbo.

In addition to offering improved turbocharger efficiency, which helps customers in engine downsizing, the HE400VGT will have a better transient response, enhanced compressor side oil leak robustness and dual sourcing on key components for supply chain flexibility.

Key highlights of the Holset HE400VGT include a new bearing system and near zero clearances to enhance performance and transient response. These enhancements are achieved by tighter clearances on the compressor stage, lower radial movement on the turbine stage, improved surface finish and new aero designs.

Scheduled to be launched in 2024, this turbocharger incorporates a next generation smart electric actuator and speed sensor with the latest chipset to enhance performance and durability. The dual sourcing strategy helps mitigate any unforeseen electronics shortages that have recently plagued the industry.

Along with the performance enhancements, the latest generation turbocharger will offer best-in-class performance for on-highway heavy-duty trucks coupled with improved fuel economy at key vehicle running points.

“CTT has incorporated exciting new technologies in our latest HE400VGT to help engine customers meet strict emissions requirements and reduce their total cost of ownership,” said Matthew Franklin, Director – Product Management & Marketing. As customers establish their strategies for upcoming emission regulations, CTT continues to build on the success of previous turbocharger launches to deliver innovative products that meet the challenges of our customers’ engine development needs without compromising on performance. 

Want to learn more about CTT’s products and technical innovation? Sign up for our quarterly newsletter today.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Rebuild masterstroke pays off for miners

belt buckle with text reading "Cummins 300th QSK60 MCRS Upgrade"

A masterstroke by Cummins engineers in Australia and the US has resulted in major cost reduction and environmental benefits for mining companies electing to rebuild their QSK60 engines under a special upgrade program.

The engineers focused on rebuild possibilities for the early generation QSK60, and how it could be upgraded to the latest diesel technology at overhaul time with no major change to the base 60-litre V16 design – a feat that eluded other engine manufacturers.

The key technology upgrade is to fuel injection, with the early unit injection system (HPI) replaced with the high-pressure modular common rail system (MCRS) that is now featured on all of Cummins’ latest generation high horsepower engines.

The 300th upgraded engine, rated at 2700 hp, recently rolled off the production line at the Cummins Master Rebuild Centre in Brisbane, highlighting yet another successful step in the evolution of the QSK60 and why it is the foremost high-horsepower diesel engine globally in mobile mining equipment.

“Reduced fuel consumption and longer life-to-overhaul are keys to lower total cost of ownership, and they were the initial aims behind the engineering of the upgrade program for the QSK60,” says Greg Field, mining business development manager for Cummins Asia Pacific.

“Innovation is at the core of Cummins’ long history, and it has certainly played its part in the QSK60 rebuild options we can offer our mining customers.”

The bottom line is impressive: Diesel particulate emissions are slashed by up to 63% through in-cylinder combustion technology with no aftertreatment. There’s also a plus for maintenance with less soot loading in the oil.

Fuel savings up to 5% are consistently reported in the field for significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction, while life-to-overhaul is extended by 10%, translating to fuel consumption of more than 4.0 million liters before rebuild is required.

Apart from the fuel system upgrade to MCRS, the QSK60 with single-stage turbocharging also features other Cummins innovations in combustion technology that were engineered for Tier 4 Final and Stage V emissions compliance, the most stringent off-highway emission standards in the world.

The rebuild upgrade package can be applied to the two variants of the QSK60 – one with single-stage turbocharging (known as ‘Advantage’) which can be rated from 1785 to 2700 hp, the other with two-stage turbocharging which can be rated at 2700, 2850 or 3000 hp.

The 300th upgraded QSK60 went to Boggabri Coal in the NSW Gunnedah Basin for installation in a Komatsu 930E haul truck. The engine has proved its worth in both coal and iron ore mining in Australia.

yellow QSK60 engine

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Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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