Red Cross Offers Winter Weather Tips
Red Cross Offers Safety Tips for
the Cold Weather
The American Red Cross offers some safety tips to prepare you and your family for the cold weather and possible winter storms..
Gather emergency supplies:
- Extra blankets.
- A warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat and water-resistant boots for each member of the household.
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Battery-powered NOAA weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries
- Canned food and can opener.
- Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days).
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit for your car, too including jumper cables, emergency triangles or flares, extra blankets, kitty litter for traction and gasoline de-icer.
Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Never operate un-vented fuel-burning appliances in any closed room or where people are sleeping.
- Never use gas appliances such as stoves, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
- Never use charcoal grills indoors or in garages.
- Never use a portable generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, including your home, garage, basement, crawl space – even with ventilation.
Be extra cautious when using space or portable heaters:
- Place heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets, and people.
- Never leave portable or other space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed.
- Don't leave children or pets unattended with space heaters and be sure everyone knows that drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire danger and should not be done.
Avoid traveling by car in extreme weather conditions or cold weather, but if you must…
- Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk as described above.
- Keep you car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
- If you do get stuck in your car:
- Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna – preferably red – for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
- Keep one window which is away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
Other cold weather/winter storm recommendations:
- If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Mittens and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
- Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperature on exposed skin.
- As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body at an accelerated rate, driving down body temperature.
- Walk carefully on snowy or icy sidewalks.
- If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.
As snow melts, be prepared for potential floods or flash floods.
Protect your pipes:
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, and electric hair dryer (do not use electrical devices if there is standing water), or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
# # #The American Red Cross is a non-profit, humanitarian agency dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. For more information, visit www.seattleredcross.org.