Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Preparing for a Winter Storm

 

snow shovel

Extreme winter weather can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can suddenly be hit with heavy snowfall or intense cold. Winter storms can result in closed streets and highways, power outages and flooding. Take action now to ensure the safety and comfort of your family in the event of extreme winter weather.

Before a storm

  • Have snow removal equipment on hand, as well as rock salt to melt ice, and sand to improve traction.
  • Regular heating fuel sources may be cut off, so make sure an alternative is available. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone in your home knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Locate your main water supply and valves, and make sure you know how to shut them off in case a freezing pipe bursts.
  • Repair roof leaks and keep gutters clear. Trim any tree branches that could fall on your house during a storm.
  • Winterize your home by caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, sealing the attic area and installing storm windows. This will help to keep your family safe and comfortable during a storm.

During a storm

  • Listen to your radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • If it becomes necessary to conserve fuel, keep your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • Stay dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent the loss of body heat.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Drive only if it is necessary. If you must drive, travel in the daytime, do not drive alone and keep others informed of your whereabouts. Also, stay on main roads. Avoid back-road shortcuts.

After a storm

  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Help neighbors who may require special assistance, including infants, the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation and open all faucets; pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold. Do not try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame.
  • Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing outside. Major winter storms are often followed by extremely cold conditions.

A little forethought and some attention to detail will help to ensure that you and your family stay warm, dry and safe in your home this winter, no matter what the weather is outside.

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