During extremely cold weather or winter storms, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. Winter storms bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you should prepare your home before a winter storm hits.
If you plan to heat your home with a wood stove, fireplace, space heater, or kerosene heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as well as other home safety measures. For a fireplace or wood stove, have your chimney or flue inspected and cleaned in the fall. Ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector, or find one online. You will need one or more working smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Remember to test them monthly.
When using an electric space heater, do not place them within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire such as: drapes, furniture, clothing, or bedding, and never cover your space heater. Don’t place a space heater on top of furniture or near water, and never leave children unattended near a space heater.
Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard, and do not run the cord under carpets or rugs. You should avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater. If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
Remember you should always have a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher in your home.
Did you know your ability to feel a change in
temperature decreases with age?
Older people are more susceptible to health problems caused by the cold. If you are over 65 years old, place an easy-to-read thermometer in an indoor location where you will see it frequently, and check the temperature of your home often during the winter months.
Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because infants lose body heat more easily than adults; and unlike adults, infants can’t make enough body heat by shivering. Provide warm clothing for infants and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If the temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture. Keep the indoor temperature warm. Improve the air circulation around indoor pipes. For example, open kitchen cabinet doors beneath the kitchen sink to let warm air in and around the pipes. When very cold temperatures are expected, leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously. Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls, so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch, instead, thaw them slowly by using a hair dryer to warm the pipes. If you cannot thaw your pipes, or the pipes are ruptured, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home. This is where your emergency supplies you have been collecting will come in handy.
Be ready in case the power goes out. Have flashlights on hand and fresh batteries. If the power goes out and you use a generator, be sure to only run it only outdoors. Keep it away from windows and doors. Do not run a generator inside your garage, even if the door is open.
Be sure to have a Winter Survival Kit for Your Home. Keep several days’ supply of food, water, and medicines that your family needs.
Stay aware of the current winter weather. Listen to the television or radio for updates. Watch for bulletins online or with your favorite app. Check to see that your neighbors are okay, particularly seniors, disabled persons, or others living alone.
You can find more detailed information on some of these item in past articles. Download them from the Clearwater County web page under the Emergency Management link.
Next week we will cover winter travel.
There are more home fires in winter than in any other season. Half of all home heating fires happen in only three months of the year. December, January, and February. As you stay cozy and warm this winter season, be safe and be fire smart!