At home and at work, the primary concerns from a powerful winter storm are loss of heat, power, and telephone service. Also a shortage of supplies can occur if storm conditions occur for more than a day. Here are some suggestions for safety preparations before and during a winter storm.
1. Flashlights with extra batteries on hand.
2. Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a portable radio to be able to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
3. Extra food and water. Have high-energy food, such as dried fruit, nuts, and granola bars, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
4. Extra medicine and baby items.
5. First aid supplies.
6. Heating fuel. Be sure to refuel before you are empty. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm.
7. Emergency heat source such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater. Proper ventilation is essential in order to avoid a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. Fire is also a major risk when using such heating sources. Keep in mind that fire departments may not be able to reach your location during a winter storm.
8. Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, and carbon monoxide detector, tested regularly.
9. Plenty of food, water and shelter for pets.
If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets. Food provides your body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep your body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers occasionally to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.
Be a good neighbor. Check with the elderly or disabled relatives and friends to ensure their safety.