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Safety tips for cold weather

Written by witf | Jan 2, 2014 1:15 PM
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Millions of people from the Midwest to the Northeast are facing extremely cold temperatures, high winds and heavy snow over the next few days. The following tips are from the American Red Cross, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and PA American Water.

COLD SAFETY TIPS

Temperatures are expected to be extremely cold over the next few days and the winds will make it feel like it is below zero. To stay safe during this winter storm follow these steps:

· Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

· After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

· Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

· Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

· Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

· Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage. Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors. Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately. Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

· Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don't disturb it.

· Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

· If you have a fire hydrant on or near your property, please take a few minutes to clear away the snow. If you cannot clear the hydrant, please ask a neighbor or someone else who can do it for you. Remember, quick access to fire hydrants benefits everyone.

· Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. 

TIPS REGARDING SPACE HEATERS, FIREPLACES AND GENERATORS

Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:

· Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

· If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

· If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

· Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

· Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

· Leave your home immediately and call 911 if your carbon monoxide detector sounds. Get medical help right away if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are dizzy, light headed or nauseous.

Never call 911 to request or report road conditions. When calling 911 to report an emergency, it is critical for callers to stay on the line, even if for an extended series of rings, until the operator answers. Hang-ups due to frustration result in key minutes being lost as 911 center personal attempt to reestablish contact.

To check road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of state roads, visit www.511PA.com or simply call 511.

This storm is already affecting millions of people and could result in the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in those areas impacted by the weather. Despite the storm, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. If you are in a region unaffected by the storm, please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets. Appointments can be online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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