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Weathering a winter storm

February 1, 2011

When ice and heavy snow bring down limbs and power lines, safety is a consideration indoors and outside.  Make sure you know how to weather the storm.
When outside, stay away from downed power lines:
A power line does not need to be sparking or arcing to be energized, even if it’s sagging close to or on the ground, and other utility lines can also become energized by being in contact with an electrical line.
Lines that appear to be “dead” can become energized as crews work to restore power, or sometimes from improper use of emergency generators.  Assume all low and downed lines are energized and dangerous. If you seen a downed or sagging line, contact your utility.
Motorists should never drive over a downed line as snagging a line could pull down a pole or other equipment and cause other hazards.
Be careful approaching intersections where traffic or crossing lights may be out.
If you plan to use a generator, know how to operate it safely
Assembling supplies and knowing how to stay warm safely are keys to weathering a winter storm emergency:
Always keep a battery-powered radio or TV, flashlights, and a supply of fresh batteries in case of an emergency.
Know where to find extra blankets.
Fill spare containers with water for washing, and keep a supply of bottled drinking water on hand.
Keep a supply of non-perishable food items, along with a hand opener for canned food.
Switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored.  Leave one lamp or 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.
Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
Never use a charcoal grill to cook or heat with inside the home. Burning charcoal gives off deadly carbon monoxide gas.  Charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
Assemble a disaster supply kit ahead of time that includes needed items. Don’t forget to include a first aid kit, prescription medicines and special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
Maintaining warmth is a priority.  Loss of body heat or hypothermia can be life threatening.
Stay inside and dress warmly in layered clothing.
Close off unneeded rooms.
When using an alternate heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards and be sure to properly ventilate.
For more information on electrical safety, go to www.safeelectricity.org.

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