We’ve all seen the stories about the massive storm that hit the East Coast last week. And then there’s the icy, snowy conditions that pummeled the nation’s North central section, too. The worst part of the storms and the cold — outside of traffic — is the loss of power and the inability to get out and purchase needed supplies like food.
Experts say with the strange weather this country has been experiencing lately, it is best to be prepared. Are you? Before you answer, here’s a reality check.
Most of us are not.
Probably the most dangerous problem people encounter in storms like these is a power outage. The weather itself is hard on power lines and power sources. Wind blows down lines and ice and snow bring them down, too. Heavy snows and winds tend to also topple trees which also take down power lines.
Add to that heavy electricity usage and — bam — power outages occur. Sometimes they can last for days. The victims that are the most impacted are those relying solely on electricity — like space heaters — and people who use alternative power sources like solar power.
The best thing you can do is be prepared says Peter Duncanson. He is the director of business process and branch operations for ServiceMaster Restore and is also the chairman of the board for the IICRC.
These are Duncanson’s thoughts on preparedness:
• Put a plan together starting with tracking winter storms
• Assign someone in the family or household to keep up on the latest forecasts if a dangerous storm is coming your way
• Know where there are available shelters in your area in case you lose power and need access to heat
• Understand what weather can do to power lines and your area’s electrical system
• Have a family discussion on what to do when power goes down
• When weather hits and power goes out stay calm
During the planning process put together an emergency kit:
• Multiple flashlights for a flame-free source of light
• A non-electricity powered radio to track weather and local updates
• Extra batteries for those flashlights and the radio
• Blankets, coats, heavy sweatshirts, etc. for warmth
• Food that doesn’t need to be cooked
You can also purchase a generator. If it’s gas powered, make sure it is outside and that the exhaust cannot get into the house. Those not having the resources — or wanting — to purchase a generator can use crank radios as a temporary source of power. They can be used to charge mobile devices like cell phones but will not be able to run larger appliances.
Other options for keeping warm:
• Wood burning
• Kerosine and gas-powered space heaters — however, make sure they’re properly ventilated
Last — keep in mind the dos and don’ts. Starting with the do:
• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep things cold and frozen
• Wear layers of clothing to keep yourself warm
• Turn off or disconnect all electric appliances to protect them from power surges when power returns
• If you use a generator, have proper venting
• Fill all of your vehicles with gas ahead of a storm in case you have to leave
• If you can, use your oven as a heat source
• Consume all food that hasn’t been properly preserved at the proper temperature
• Buy a generator without doing research on the type and wattage
• Run generators inside or in a closed garage
• Burn charcoal or propane heaters
• If you do use heaters, never leave them unattended
Freezing weather will take a toll on the exterior of a house like roofs. It also can take its toll on the interior of a home. Without heat the worst wear and tear is on pipes. Scientists say as pipes freeze they cause as much as 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. That’s enough to rupture almost any pipe and when the thaw comes a ruptured pipe can spew hundreds of gallons of water per hour.
Water — as we all know — can cause hundreds and even thousands of dollars in damage very, very quickly. Howard White is the executive vice president of Maxons Restorations in New York City which is one of the cities hit hardest on the East coast by the current storm.
He said there are a lot of things you can do to avoid frozen pipes:
• Keep faucets dripping especially overnight
• That won’t keep pipes from freezing but it will keep them from bursting
• Open cabinets under sinks to let what warm air is in the house to circulate there
• Wrap kitchen and bathroom pipes and other pipes you can access with old newspapers or towels and use duct tape to secure the wrapping
• If you have heat and electricity and you are leaving your home, keep the heat on
• Keep garage doors closed especially if pipes run through the garage
Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com — link 1, link 2