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Preparing for Winter Storms

As the winter season approaches bringing holiday cheer, it also brings ice storms that can cause prolonged power outages. If snow and ice cover the roads, it will not only be difficult for you to leave your home, but it will also present a challenge to people trying to reach you. Severe winter damage to electrical power lines and transmission systems can sometimes take days to repair. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay snug and warm on those cold, dark winter nights.

  • Have identification documents on-hand such as social security card, birth certificate, driver’s license and important documents such as health, car, and life insurance.
  • Make sure to have first-aid supplies.
  • Have extra supplies of items needed for babies, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Fill or refill prescriptions.
  • Check to see if your flashlights are working.  Make sure you have extra batteries. 
  • Keep a battery-operated radio handy—it may be your only link to outside information during a severe weather emergency.
  • Make sure you have extra blankets.
  • Keep a supply of food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration such as granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits. Have on hand a non-electrical can opener for canned foods.
  • Have an extra supply of drinking water.
  • Stay inside and dress in layered clothing to stay warm.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • When using an alternate heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards and be sure to properly ventilate.
  • Never use a charcoal grill to cook or heat inside the home. It gives off deadly carbon monoxide gas.  Grills should only be used outside.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm. Make sure to test your smoke alarms once a month to ensure they are working properly.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of food, water, and shelter.

The best way to stay prepared for an ice storm is by listening to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, commercial radio, and television for the latest winter storm warnings, watches, and advisories. The NOAA Weather Radio is the best means to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts warnings and forecasts.

There are also steps you can take that will not only help you to survive winter ice storms and prolonged power outages, but can help you save money on your electric heating bills!

  • Replace screens with storm windows and doors.
  • Seal leaks between moving parts with weather stripping (between a door and its frame).  Fill leaks between nonmoving parts (between window frame and wall) with caulking.
  • Locate air leaks both inside and around the exterior of the home. You can wet your fingertips and run them around the door or window frame to feel a draft.  Another method is to hold up a tissue and see if it waves. Make sure to check around fixtures that penetrate walls such as exhaust fans and electrical outlets.
  • Look for unfilled gaps and cracks near dryer vents, chimneys, and faucet pipes.
  • If you are shopping for new windows, glass doors, or skylights make sure to look for ENERGY STAR. These windows are 40 percent more energy efficient than the standard windows. ENERGY STAR windows can cut heating and cooling costs by 15%.
  • Make sure attics and flooring above unheated spaces such as crawl space and the garage are properly insulated.
  • Have your furnace checked by a professional to make sure it’s operating safely and at its highest efficiency. It is recommended that you should replace your furnace if it is more than thirty years old. Furnaces that are old are less than 50% energy efficient.
  • Installing an automatic thermostat can automatically raise and lower home temperatures for energy savings throughout the day and night.


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