Over the next 48 hours we will be experiencing deep freezing temperatures. These conditions will put a strain on exposed pipes and even covered pipes with the extended time below freezing.
Perhaps you're stuck home with the kids because school got called off due to the extreme cold. Worse, perhaps you're having to go out into a wind chill of minus-30 or colder because of work or necessity.
Be careful. According to the National Weather Service, extreme cold and winter storms in 2013 resulted in 46 deaths and extensive disruptions for thousands of families. With another cold blast this week, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers 21 winter safety and power outage tips to keep families safe and warm.
Hopefully we won't have to worry about a power outage, but there are still some good ideas in here:
Affordable Ways to Protect Your Home
For as little as $1 per 6 feet of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing, even when the power goes out.
1. Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts with insulating foam.
2. Place an insulating dome or other covering on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of the water in your pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.
3. Drip faucets to reduce the build-up of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, you have released the pressure from the water system reducing the likelihood of a rupture. If you are going out of town, and suspect temperatures will drop or a power outage will occur, turn off the water to your home and open all of the taps to drain the water system. This way you won't return to a frozen, soggy mess.
4. Check for air leaks around windows and doors using a lit incense stick. If the smoke is sucked out of an opening, seal the leak with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.
Keep Your Family Safe & Warm
5. Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.
6. If the power goes out, make sure to turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
7. Resist the temptation to call 911 for information during power outages.
8. Keep your car fuel tank at least half full as gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps and may not have back-up power.
9. Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from ATMs or banks.
10. Volunteer to check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.
11. Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
12. If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.
13. Arrange ahead of time with family, friends, or neighbors for a place to go if you have an extended outage. If you have nowhere to go, head to a designated public shelter. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)
14. Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies, and pet food on hand, and have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.
15. Avoid opening the fridge or freezer.
16. Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
17. Follow manufacturer's instructions such as only connect individual appliances to portable generators.
18. Don't plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home's electrical system as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
19. Consider purchasing and installing a permanent home generator with an automatic on switch.
When Power Returns
20. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace. Be sure to install a system of surge protection that consists of point-of-use devices and whole house surge protection.
21. When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate potential problems caused from sharp increases in demand.
For more, visit www.greatwinterweatherparty.org.