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Keeping You and Your Home Safe in These Icy Cold Temperatures

It‘s so cold inside I had to salt the hallways to keep from slipping and falling.

It‘s so cold inside I opened the refrigerator to warm the house up.

It‘s so cold inside I took a shower and icicles came out of the faucet.

With the onset of the coldest weather to hit much of the U.S. in decades (wind chills of 40 below and more in some of our locations), we not only have to worry about our safety outdoors, we have to address our indoor safety issues as well. Winter weather can knock out heat, power and communications services to your home for days. Whole regions can be paralyzed. And that‘s no laughing matter.Hopefully you‘ve done some prep work to keep you and your family safe and warm during severe winter weather. For instance, in order to extend the life of your fuel supply, FEMA recommends insulating your walls and attic, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic. Sealing air leaks to the outside is also important.Your refrigerator can keep items cold for long periods of time even when you lose power during hot summer blackouts. So it is with the shell of your home—summer and winter. When the temperature outside is as cold as it‘s been lately, an airtight, well-insulated home can significantly slow heat loss.Here are some other ways to get ready for cold weather and potential winter power outages:

  • Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.
  • Have plenty of heating fuel and heating equipment (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can keep at least one room livable.
  • Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping them in insulation or layers of newspapers, then cover them with plastic to keep out moisture.
  • Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
  • If your home depends on a power source for your water, fill water containers with enough drinking water to last for several days.
  • Fill your bathtub and spare buckets with water to use for sanitation and to flush toilets.
  • Set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest and don‘t open the doors. Food can stay cold in a full refrigerator for up to 24 hours, and in a well-packed freezer for 48 hours.
  • Make sure you know how to manually operate your electric garage door.

When extreme cold or winter storms strike, here are some handy tips:

  • Eat regularly and drink plenty of liquids (without caffeine or alcohol)
  • Watch for these signs of frostbite–loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in your fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. Get medical help immediately if you have frostbite!
  • Watch for these signs of hypothermia–uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If you have hypothermia, get to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, and warm the center of your body first. If conscious, take warm, non-alcoholic beverages. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by turning your thermostat down.
  • Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • Keep your home well-ventilated when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes.
  • Make sure your mobile device is fully charged so you can keep up-to-date with information on the weather and other important topics relevant to your situation.

Don‘t be caught off guard. Be prepared and you, your family and your home will be all the safer for it.

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