Safety tips for dealing with cold weather

The chilly forecast for this weekend is a reminder to be prepared for the season’s cold weather.

“We’re urging people to check their disaster preparedness plans now, before our community is threatened by freezing temperatures, icy conditions and power outages,” said Annie Harvey, executive director of the New River Valley chapter of the American Red Cross.

Here are some precautions to take during cold weather:

• Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

• Protect plumbing. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.

• Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

• Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

• Never use a stove or oven to heat a home.

• For a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

• Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.

• Don’t hook up a generator to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.

Amy Whittaker is the regional public affairs director for the NRV chapter of the American Red Cross.

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