21 Essential Cold Weather Safety and Power Outage Tips

The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is offering 21 tips to keep families safe and warm when the power goes out and freezing temperatures arrive.

Foam, Dome & Drip – Affordable Ways to Protect Your Home

For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing during winter and even when the power goes out.

  1. Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts with insulating foam. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy.
  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 that 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

  1. Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.
  2. After the power goes out, make sure to turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
  3. Resist the temptation to call 911 for information during power outages. Instead use your battery-powered radio for information.
  4. 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.
  5. Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from ATMs or banks.
  6. Volunteer to check on elderly neighbors, friends, or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.
  7. 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.
  8. If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.
  9. 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)

Food

  1. 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.
  2. Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.

Generators

  1. Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
  2. Follow manufacturer’s instructions such as only connect individual appliances to portable generators.
  3. 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.
  4. Consider purchasing and installing a standby home generator with an automatic on switch.

When Power Returns

  1. 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.
  2. 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 information, tips and resources for winter safety visit Flash.org. 

Foam, Dome & Drip – Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

 

As freezing temperatures threaten, prevent frozen water pipes, one of the costliest threats to your home, with three easy steps:

#1: FOAM

#2: DOMEBurst pipe

#3: DRIP

FOAM: Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold, winter months.

DOME: Place an insulating dome or other coverings on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.

DRIP: Allow a slow drip from your faucets to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, the released pressure in the water system will reduce the likelihood of a rupture. If you are going out of town and suspect the temperature will drop, turn off the water and open all of the taps to drain the water system. This way pipes won’t
freeze and you won’t return home to a mess.

Your local home improvement store will have all of the tools and expertise you will need to complete these steps. FOAM, DOME, DRIP your way to a safe winter season free of costly home repairs.

For more information on protecting your home from extreme cold conditions, visit www.flash.org. To stay abreast of severe weather alerts and find more mitigation tips, download FLASH Weather Alerts at www.flashweatheralerts.org.

Top Heat Wave Safety Tips from FLASH

With temperatures rising, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® provides the following tips for before and during extreme heat, and how to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Extreme heat is a fatal weather risk in the United States, and everyone is at risk, especially the elderly, very young, and those who work outdoors.

Before the Heat Wave:

  1. Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  2. Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  3. Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  4. Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  5. Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
  6. Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes, keep your NOAA weather radio or FLASH Weather Alerts App handy.

When Temperatures Soar:

  1. The coolest part of the day is normally sunrise, so plan any necessary strenuous activity for the morning.
  2. Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine.
  3. Drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty as water is most hydrating liquid to drink during a heat wave.
  4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can intensify the negative effect on your body.
  5. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect some of the sun’s energy.
  6. Never leave children, elderly, or pets in the car even with the windows down. Although the outside air temperatures may seem comfortable, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise 40 to 50 degrees and swiftly create deadly, oven-like conditions.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  1. Cool, flushed, moist, or pale skin
  2. Heavy sweating and high body temperature
  3. Headache
  4. Nausea
  5. Vomiting
  6. Dizziness

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  1. Hot, red skin
  2. Changes in consciousness
  3. A rapid, weak pulse
  4. Rapid, shallow breathing
  5. A very high body temperature – even as high as 105 degrees F.
  6. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry

For more information on heat safety, visit www.flash.org or view extreme heat safety information from FEMA at ready.gov.

About FLASH

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is the country’s leading consumer advocate for strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and man-made disasters. FLASH collaborates with more than 120 innovative and diverse partners that share its vision of making America a more disasterresilient nation including: BASF, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, The Home Depot®, International Code Council, Kohler® Generators, National Weather Service, Portland Cement Association, Simpson Strong-Tie®, State Farm™, and USAA®. In 2008, FLASH® and Disney opened the interactive weather experience StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes® in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Learn more about FLASH and gain access to its free consumer resources by visiting www.flash.org or calling (877) 221- SAFE (7233). Also, get timely safety tips to ensure that you and your family are protected from natural and manmade disasters by subscribing to the FLASH blog – Protect Your Home in a FLASH, and following the FLASH Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Fireplace Safety Tips for Winter

As winter approaches, families across the country are looking for safe ways to keep warm including lighting up the fireplace. These tips from FLASH and the US Fire Administration will help you keep your family safe and warm this winter season.

Fireplace Safety

Before You Light the First Fire
Before you light your first fire of the season, be sure you have completed these safety steps:

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment. Make sure all vent pipes extend at least three feet above the roof.

Fireplace Safety Tips
While enjoying your fire all winter, be sure that each fire is as safe as it is warm:

  • If you have glass doors, leave them open while burning a fire so that the fire receives enough air to ensure complete combustion and keep creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have a glass fireplace door.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire and use only seasoned hardwood. Never burn cardboard boxes, trash, charcoal or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

These resources and a lot more will be available as a part of the FLASH Great Winter Weather Party set to launch in early December. Stay tuned for details!