Here are some suggestions to help you prepare and remain safe during and after a storm…
Stay Away From Downed Power Lines
- Keep your distance from any downed power lines and call 911 to report them to the police or fire department. Treat all wires, even those that are hanging or downed, as if they are “live” (energized). Don’t drive over downed lines, and if a downed line is in or near water, keep your distance from the water, even a little puddle. And whether a power line is down or not, don’t touch anything that might be in contact with it, such as a tree limb.
Check Medications That Require Refrigeration
- Be sure you know if they will be affected by a prolonged interruption of power. You may want to talk with your pharmacist. You may also want to keep a small cooler handy.
Set Your Refrigerator And Freezer To Their Coldest Settings
- Do this a half day or so before the storm is scheduled to hit. Be sure to return the settings to their normal position as soon as electricity has been restored.
Get Extra Ice
- Ice helps maintain cold temperatures in your freezer and refrigerator. Use plastic bags filled with ice (or water, if you have enough time to freeze it) in the freezer. Use block ice, if possible, in the refrigerator. And should the ice melt, you can drink the water.
Set Aside Water
- This is vital if you depend on a water pump that might be disabled during a storm. Sanitize and fill spare containers with water for drinking. Fill your bathtub with water for use in the toilet. A bucket of water poured in the toilet bowl is all that’s needed for flushing.
Be Prepared To Cook Outside
- It is possible that your stove will not work, so you may wish to use your backyard grill for cooking. However, please beware! Do not bring the grill indoors. A grill without proper ventilation can be deadly.
Stock Up On Batteries And Easy-To-Prepare Food
- Give yourself the greatest flexibility in meal preparation, and the greatest comfort once the sun goes down. Don’t forget flashlights (one for each person in your family), batteries and a manual can opener.
Prepare Alternative Sources Of Heat Or Find An Emergency Shelter
- Even a gas or oil furnace needs electricity to operate, so if you have a fireplace or wood stove as an alternative heat source be sure you have enough wood. A portable electric generator can be a valuable backup source of power to operate your furnace and appliances. Just be sure you have it installed by a licensed electrician. If you have no alternative heat, find out where an emergency shelter will be, if it is needed. Call your local fire or police department or local Red Cross Chapter. In frigid weather, if your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to call your plumber and ask about draining your home’s water pipes so they don’t freeze and burst.
Unplug Sensitive Equipment
- Voltage irregularities can occur for any number of reasons during or after a storm, especially if there has been damage on or near your home. The safest thing to do is to unplug any sensitive electrical devices (e.g., TV, DVD Player, stereo, microwave, computer, iPod, answering machine, garage door opener). Planning ahead, you may wish to consider surge suppressors. They can be purchased either for individual pieces of equipment, or for your entire house.
Fill Your Car’s Gas Tank
- During an outage, gas stations may not be operating, so it’s important to fill your tank before a storm. You just never know where you might need to go or how long it might take to get there.
Plan To Live Without Everyday Tools That Need Electricity
- For example, be sure you know how to shut and open your electric garage door manually. And if you keep your cellar free from flooding by using a sump pump, be prepared to call your local fire department for help if you lose power for an extended period.
Keep A Battery-Operated Radio Handy
- Be ready to stay informed with the storm’s progress, as well as safety tips and clean-up operations. Don’t forget fresh batteries.
Prepare A “Lights Out” Kit
- Your kit should contain a flashlight, fresh water, prescription medicine, prepared foods and other items needed when the lights go out. For more information, download the American Red Cross brochure, Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit. It’s also a good idea to have some extra cash on hand and to fully charge your mobile phone. By following these tips and preparing your own emergency kit before a storm strikes, you will be better able to weather the storm.
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