Many citizens of the U.S. survived a very hot, dry summer, and tried all the safety tips offered to them to prevent them from being overcome from the heat.  Now, just as quickly, we turn around to face a cold winter.  Funny, how the climate changes each year, isn’t it?  The world keeps turning and we keep trying to adjust to Mother Nature. 

Regardless of the season, every family should have a disaster plan in place.  Here are some basic steps to follow:

  • Know what your community’s warning signals are.
  • Family should decide on two places to meet: a place outside your home for an emergency such as a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. 
  • Select an out-of-area friend as your family check-in contact for everyone to call if the family is separated.
  • Post emergency phone numbers by the phones.  Have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home.  Have a first aid kit and supplies handy and have your family learn basic safety and first aid measures. 
  • Be sure that everyone knows how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency medical services phone number.  

Next,  have home emergency supplies on hand.  There could be a winter storm or power outage that could prevent you from leaving home. 

  •          Flashlights and extra batteries.
  •          NOAA weather radio.
  •          Non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration.
  •          Bottled water.
  •          One-week supply of essential medications.
  •          Extra blankets and sleeping bags.
  •          Emergency heating equipment, used properly. 

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to winterize your home! 

  • Have your heating system checked by a professional annually.  If you heat with wood, clean your fireplace or stove.  Have your chimney flue checked for buildup of creosote and then cleaned to lessen the risk of fire.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out.
  • If you failed to replace batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when the time changed, do it now.
  • Be sure your home is properly insulated.  If not, insulate walls and attic.  This will help conserve energy and reduce your homes’ power demand for heat.
  • Inspect and flush your water heater.
  • Clean gutters of leaves and other debris in order to not hamper drainage.
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers.
  • Cover the papers with plastic to keep out moisture.
  • Leave faucets dripping slightly to avoid freezing.
  • Know how to shut off water valves.
  • If the house isn’t very warm inside, leave cabinet doors open where pipes are.
  • Set the heat no lower than 55 degrees. 

Last but not least, a word about generators, which can provide you with piece of mind and convenience when you have a temporary loss of electricity.  Before installing a generator, disconnect from your utility electrical service, and if possible, have a qualified electrician install it.  NEVER run a generator indoors!  Carbon monoxide gas from the exhaust of the generator can spread throughout closed spaces.  Overloading a generator can damage it, and the appliances connected to it.  Never let children around generators. 

We have many more tips for winter safety.  Stay tuned and we’ll bring more later…..Till then, stay warm and safe!