Heavy accumulations of ice and snow coupled with fluctuating winter temperatures can bring down utility poles, trees and limbs. This can disrupt power for days on end. With this, comes a threat to property and also to life itself.
In a winter storm emergency, restoring power and heat to consumers is the highest priority, and electric utility crews work around the clock to restore service. Even so, it can take days to repair the devastating damage of a winter storm. If you are in the midst of storm recovery, avoid going outside if possible. Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice and difficult to identify. When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized electric lines: Stay away, warn others to stay away and immediately contact your utility company. Remember that downed power lines do NOT have to be arcing, sparking or moving to be live and deadly.
Safe Electricity stresses the importance of being prepared for dangerous winter storms and the power outages they may cause. You need the right emergency items and knowledge to stay warm and safe in a winter storm. Safe Electricity offers the following tips to prepare your home:
- Before winter sets in, update your insulation and caulk and install weather-strips.
- Call your utility company or professional tree trimmers to cut branches away from your home and power lines.
Safe Electricity emphasizes that everyone, particularly families with special needs, must be prepared in case of a winter emergency and long-term power outages. Prepare an emergency kit with the following items:
- Battery-powered radio and flashlights with fresh batteries
- Water for drinking and washing
- Non-perishable food and a can opener.
- First aid kit and prescription medicines.
When a storm hits, your preparation should include knowledge. The following tips from Safe Electricity can help you stay safe and warm.
- Switch off lights and appliances to prevent damaging appliances and overloading circuits when power is restored. Leave one lamp or light switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
- To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
- Do not use charcoal grills or gas ovens to heat your home; this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay inside and dress in warm, layered clothing.
- When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards and be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
- Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in\
- Maintain a regular diet. Food provides the body with energy for creating its own energy.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Move around to keep warm, but not enough to perspire. Perspiring causes the body to lose fluids which could potentially lead to dehydration.
- Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants or persons over age 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends, relatives or in a shelter if you can’t keep your home warm.