Monday, January 26 2009
With a winter storm fast approaching we thought it would not hurt to go over safety tips for winter weather. The motto is: Be Prepared. Act Now. Stay safe!
Are you ready? Winter weather safety tips
Here are some winter weather emergency tips we’ve compiled by talking to representatives from Vectren, the American Red Cross and the Emergency Management agency:
— Have a three-day supply of food and water, extra batteries and medications.
— Create a family communications plan, including a designated out-of-town contact.
— Monitor your weather radio or local radio and TV for information and emergency instructions.
— If you must go outside, dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Mittons are better than gloves. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Avoid overextertion.
— Conserve fuel by keeping your house cooler than normal or by shutting off less-used rooms.
— If there is a significant power outage, the Red Cross of Southwestern Indiana will establish shelters, notifying the public through the news media and also by driving into areas where outages exist.
— Call Vectren at (800) 227-1376 to report a power outage, downed power lines, gas problem etc.
— Have a power outage kit, including a flashlight with batteries, lantern, matches, glow-in-the-dark light sticks, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket.
— Check on neighbors who might need help, such as the elderly, disabled or small children.
— Use hot water sparingly. Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 hours.
— Know how to manually override your electric garage door if you have one.
— Unplug computers, TVs, VCRs, and other sensitive appliances. This will minimize the risk of possible damage to these devices when power is restored.
— Turn off all heat producing appliances like electric irons and heaters to prevent fires in case no one is home when power is restored.
— Leave one or two lights on to let you know when service is restored.
— Dress in layers to conserve body heat. Close doors, windows, curtains and unused fireplace dampers to preserve heat.
— Use flashlights when necessary. If candles must be used, keep away from pets and children and any flammable materials.
— Adequately vent fueled space heaters (e.g. kerosene, propane, alcohol) to avoid carbon monoxide gas buildup. Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside closed areas, including garages and porches, due to carbon monoxide risks.
— Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible to keep food fresh. Refrigerated food should be safe for about four hours. But milk, dairy products, eggs, meats and all cooked foods spoil quickly. Discard these foods if the temperature in the refrigerator rises above 40 degrees for two hours or more. When in doubt, throw the food out.
— If used incorrectly, generators pose a hazard to both you and crews attempting to restore power. Plug appliances and fixtures directly into the outlets of the generator, not into your home circuitry. Be sure to use generators in a well-ventilated area.
— When power is restored, turn on electrical appliances gradually. Sudden heavy consumption can damage the electrical system and extend the outage.
— Carry a disaster supplies kit in your car that includes water, a flashlight, flares, energy bars and blankets.
— Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use.
— Let someone know your destination, your route and your expected arrival time.
Stay tuned for storm warnings. Know the difference between a winter storm watch and warning. A watch means conditions are favorable for a winter storm, a warning means a winter storm (4 or more inches of snow and sleet) is headed for your area and you should seek shelter.
— Plan long car trips carefully. Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol to get the latest road conditions. The numbers are (800) 261-7623 in Southwest Indiana, 511 in Western Kentucky and (800) 452-4368 in
— If you get stranded, remain in your car. Tie a bright cloth to the antenna. Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Keep one window that is away from blowing wind slightly open for fresh air.
— Avoid driving during a winter storm or when one is imminent.
— Travel during daylight hours and if possible take another person with you.
— Clear all snow and ice off of your headlights, taillights, windows and hood before driving so you can see and be seen by other vehicles.
— If you’re healthy enough to shovel snow, still take it easy at first to warm up, and stretch after finishing.
— To avoid overextertion and back pain, don’t try to move too much snow at once.
— If the snow is heavy or deep, try to push it rather than throw it.
— Use a shovel with a D-shaped handle for an easier grip.
— Hold shovel loads closer to the body. Lift each load with your legs, keeping the spine upright. Don’t lift and twist.
Snow and ice removal
— Proceed with caution when removing snow and ice around gas meters.
— Remove large icicles hanging over meter assemblies and appliance vents.
— If your gas meter is near a sidewalk or driveway, make sure whoever removes snow from your property is aware of its location.
— Use a broom — not a shovel — to clear snow from your meter assembly and vents.
— Particular attention should be paid when moving snow on a commercial lot. Be sure not to pile snow around gas meters.
— Consider installing driveway entrance reflectors around gas meters in close proximity to a roadway or driveway.
Downed power lines
— Never touch or attempt to move a downed power line or a person who is in contact with a power line.
— Keep children and pets away from areas where power lines may have fallen.
— Don’t drive over downed power lines.
— If a downed line is near water, keep a safe distance from the line and the water, even if it is a small puddle.
— Be careful not to stand under tree limbs or power lines. Tree limbs can become weakened during a storm but not fall until several hours or even days after the storm. — The same can be true for power lines or poles that sustain damage.
Smell natural gas?
— Leave the area (home or building) of the gas leak, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable, immediately.
— Call Vectren at 1 (800) 227-1376 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak.
— Remain in a safe area until emergency personnel arrive and do not return to the area where the odor of gas is noticeable or re-enter the building or surrounding buildings.