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Rick's Severe Winter Weather Tips

This article was originally published on December 21, 2012 and expired on March 15, 2013. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Here are a few tips for handling power outages:

NEVER touch a utility wire that has been knocked to the ground. It could still be live. Even if the wire appears to be a cable or telephone line it could be in contact with an electric line and thus present a potentially fatal hazard.

If you operate a generator, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area out of doors and never refuel an operating generator as gasoline could come in contact with a hot exhaust system and ignite. Never attempt to wire a generator into your home circuits without the assistance of a qualified electrician. Doing so could present a deadly hazard to utility workers.

Do not use a conventional stove or oven for heat. Make certain that kerosene heaters are operated and refueled according to instructions.

If temperatures are below freezing, allow a small stream of water to run from faucets, especially if the plumping is located along an outside wall. Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warmer air to circulate.

Refrigerated and frozen food will eventually become unfit for consumption. Use the material at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/facts/food.cfm as a guide. Remember, "When in doubt, throw it out." Avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer doors.

Even an inch of snow pushed by high winds can result in near-zero visibility and dangerous travel conditions. If you must travel, leave a "flight plan" with family or friends. Let them know where you are headed and what routes you expect to take. Make sure to have a fully charged cell phone and a winter emergency kit including blankets, water, a shovel, jumper cables, energy bars, basic tools, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a NOAA weather radio, a first aid kit and other essential items. If you do become stuck, stay with your vehicle. One can easily become disoriented during whiteout conditions. Run your vehicle for about ten minutes every hour to maintain some heat. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of ice and snow.

There are additional winter weather resources at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/winter/ , the National Weather Service at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/index.shtml and from the Extension Disaster education Network at http://eden.lsu.edu/Topics/Hazards/SnowIce/Pages/default.aspx .

Updated weather forecasts are available from NOAA all-hazards weather radios, www.weather.gov and many commercial weather websites.

Source: Rick Atterberry, Media Communications Specialist, ratterbe@illinois.edu

Pull date: March 15, 2013

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