With winter storms producing high winds predicted for much of the nation, Mother Nature’s holiday gifts for home owners are likely to include power outages and weather-related hazards.

Try these tips for staying safe and warm during winter storms:

  • If you have lost power, contact your provider ASAP and make sure your neighbors each call, too. Utilities often make repairs based on the number of homes on the block without power, Making sure everyone’s power outage is reported can help you get repairs faster.
  • Use caution when venturing outside. Remember, downed power lines could be hidden under limbs and debris, and there is no way to tell if a line is energized. If you see downed or sagging power lines, or other damaged electrical equipment, stay far away. Notify authorities as soon as possible.
  • To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
  • When the power goes out, switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored. Leave one lamp or switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
  • Close off unused rooms.
  • Cover windows at night.
  • Place a rolled-up rug or heavy towel in front of the bottom of doors to minimize any cold drafts from entering the house.
  • When using an alternative heat source, be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
  • Keep three feet of space between space heaters and any surfaces that could burn, including walls and bedding. Choose space heaters with automatic shut-off in case they tip over.
  • Reverse the rotation of ceiling fan blades, which should spin clockwise at low speed during the winter months, so the warm air that has risen can be re-distributed around the room.
  • Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over the age of 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
  • Before the next storm comes through, make sure to update and replenish your emergency preparedness kit with items such as water, nonperishable food, blankets, medications, a first-aid kit, flashlights, and batteries.

Source: ComEd, Safe Electricity