Dangerous cold temperatures and life-threatening wind chills, along with heavy snow are expected over the next few days for the eastern two-thirds of the country and the American Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of this winter weather.
Temperatures will be below zero in many locations with wind chills making it feel as cold as 60 degrees below zero in some areas. See more safety information here.
IF THE POWER GOES OUT
If electrical power lines are down, don’t touch them. Keep your family and pets away. Report downed lines to your utility company.
Use flash lights in the dark, not candles.
Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-lburning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY – DO NOT DELAY.
Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or below to be safe to eat. Then use food from the freezer.
Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
WINTER WEATHER – HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):
All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.