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Winter Storm Prep: Keeping Your Family and Home Warm

Blizzards can bring strong winds and unwanted amounts of snow to your area, which can prevent you from going about your day. With increased probability for power outages, causing you to use additional heat sources to stay warm, you may be unknowingly increasing the chances of a fire, electrical shock and carbon monoxide poisoning from occurring. Before the storm and subzero temperatures come your way, make sure you and your family are properly prepared.

Man snow blowing his walk.

Getting Your Family and Home Ready

Make sure you and your family are familiar with your emergency plan, specifically where things are located and who is responsible for each task. For example, move any items inside that could be displaced by strong winds such as your patio furniture and garbage cans. Also, check to see if exposed water lines are properly insulated. If not, caulk any openings that may allow cold air to flow across interior supply lines. Familiarize yourself with the location of your main water shut-off in case a pipe bursts. Have your family help test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in addition to locating the fire extinguishers and knowing how to operate them in case of an emergency. Knowing what to do before the power goes out or a pipe bursts is an important factor in beating the cold.

Keeping Pipes From Freezing

When the cold weather comes it may feel like you're living in the North Pole, especially for your pipes. To help prevent pipes from bursting, expose water pipes to warm air flow by opening cabinet doors. Also, open doors to closets where water lines run through the walls; however, if any water lines run through the garage, make sure that the garage door stays closed to keep the warm air in. Adjusting your thermostat so that it doesn't reduce the overnight temperature in your home can also help. Pressure builds when pipes begin to freeze, causing them to burst. To alleviate the pressure, run the water in faucets and flush toilets periodically, and slowly run the water of pipes you think may have a higher chance of freezing.

Think your pipes are already frozen? Use a hair dryer to help thaw the pipes. Open the faucet and direct air across the pipe beginning at the faucet end. Remember to never use electronic devices in or near water!

When the power is out, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety suggests draining the plumbing system by closing the water valves and running water until it stops to prevent a pipe from bursting.

Keeping Your House Warm

If you're using heaters to heat your home, make sure they are at least three feet from anything that is flammable, especially bedding and curtains. Avoid using extension cords if at all possible and make sure you turn off your heaters before leaving the room or going to bed. If your power is out and you have to use a backup generator, make sure that they are run outside only. And no matter how cold you are, never, ever use an oven to heat your house, and vent all fuel-burning heaters to the outside to avoid a fire. Make sure to follow local news and radio stations for weather updates. If the cold weather continues and your home is too cold to stay in, seek public shelters.

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