Snow and ice storms are an inevitable part of the winter season. However, they can lead to downed power lines and outages. Remember the following tips to stay safe and warm should you find yourself in the dark after a severe winter event:
- Never touch a fallen power line, and assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. Call MEC at 1-877-MECKOUT to report it immediately. Avoid contact with overhead lines during cleanup and other activities.
- In the event of an outage, an alternate heating source—such as a fireplace, propane space heater, or wood stove—may be used. Extreme caution should be taken.
- Make sure carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are working properly.
- Do not use a gas-powered oven for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Do not use a gas or charcoal grill inside the home. Do not use charcoal briquettes in the fireplace.
- If you use a portable generator to power a heating source, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation. Learn more here.
Ideally, your family will stay warm until the power comes back on. But keep an eye on family members for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, drowsiness, and mental and physical slowness. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia. Call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. At least one telephone in the house that does not depend on electricity should be available in the case of a power outage.
Prepare Before the Storm by Gathering:
Flashlights and fresh batteries.
Battery-powered radio or TV and extra batteries.
Cell phone chargers (make sure your cell phone is fully charged).
Land-line phone with cord (cordless phones require electricity).
Battery-powered or windup alarm clock.
Supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day).
Non-perishable foods that require no heating.
Blankets, bedding or sleeping bags.
First-aid kit and prescription medications.
Hand-operated can opener.
Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs.
A variety of hand tools.
List of emergency and MEC phone numbers.
Identification and copies of important family documents in a waterproof container.
Cash (ATMs may be unavailable).