As winter approaches, the city’s health department in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering some advice to help residents prepare for the wind, snow, ice and cold temperatures.
According to health officials, it is a good idea to have a communication plan identifying the potential hazards and impediments to safety in your home or adjacent areas. Determine what your family should do during an actual emergency. Decide on a meeting place if your family cannot return home and designate an out-of-town friend or relative as a point-of-contact.
In case of a power failure, health officials recommend having an emergency supply kit containing a battery-powered radio so that you can listen for emergency information and instructions. Your emergency kit should also include battery-powered lamps or lanterns, extra batteries, blankets, first aid kit, medications, and a week’s supply of bottled water as well as “no-cook” food such as bread, crackers, and dried fruits. If there is an infant in the house, be sure there is enough baby food and formula. If there are pets, make sure there is adequate food, water and any needed medications.
If you are without power for an extended period, you can use either a fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or gas log fireplace for heat. Keep heat sources at least 3 feet from furniture and drapes. Never use an electrical generator indoors inside a garage or the air intake of your home because of the risk of poison monoxide. Do not store gasoline indoors where fumes could ignite.
Use individual heavy-duty outdoor-rated cords. Make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Never use charcoal grills or portable gas stove indoors.
Avoid using candles; instead use a flashlight or lantern. Have a chemical fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.
Extreme cold can also cause water pipes in your home to freeze and possibly break so leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously. If possible, keep the indoor temperature warm.
Open kitchen cabinet doors under kitchen sink allowing more warm air near pipes. If pipes do freeze, thaw slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer when available (do not thaw with a torch). If you cannot thaw pipes or if they have broken, use bottled water. If no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
For more information on preparing for winter weather visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.