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Be prepared for frigid weather

METEOROLOGISTS ARE CALLING FOR colder and stormier-than-normal conditions in the northern tier, Midwest and Ohio Valley, so now is a good time to prepare.

Protecting your home against winter weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, indoors or out. To protect pipes during frigid weather, insulate them in exposed or unheated areas, keep the thermostat above 55 degrees and open cabinets to let warm air reach sink pipes.

If a pipe bursts indoors, help prevent electrocution by calling your electric cooperative right away to turn off electricity before going to a basement or before touching any plugged in appliances.

When it comes to outdoor winterizing, turn off faucets and have sprinkler systems blown out by a professional. Remove and drain window air conditioners. 

Avoid roof water damage from clogged gutters by cleaning them after the leaves fall. This also keeps ice and water from building up around the foundation. Have a professional check the trees around the house for dead or dying limbs and remove them. They could damage your home if downed in winter winds or weighed down by snow and ice.

Make sure winter appliances that have been stored away are ready to be used. Look over snowblowers and generators to ensure they are in working order and don’t have cracked wiring.

Storm prep

Put together a winter storm kit that will get you through at least three days of being homebound, with or without electricity. First, make sure you have a fully charged battery backup for your cellphone. Your kit should include semi-perishable and nonperishable food, a gallon of water per person per day, lamps and flashlights (plus batteries), a first aid kit, basic tools and an alternative heat source, like a fireplace or kerosene heater.

Don’t forget your vehicle

Remember these tips when preparing your vehicle for winter weather:

  • Install winter wipers.
  • Check your tires for wear to be sure they have good traction to handle snow and ice.
  • Keep washer fluid full. Consider keeping a spare bottle in the trunk.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure and check it more regularly during winter.
  • Keep your rear-window defroster in working order. Being unable to see behind you could create unsafe driving conditions.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full to help prevent gas line freeze. Plus, if you’re ever stranded, your engine may be the only thing to keep you warm until help arrives.
  • Pack a car winter safety kit, with cellphone, ice scraper, bag of sand and shovel, flares, first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, jumper cables, warm clothing and/or blanket, beverages and nonperishable food

JUSTIN RICKMAN is Environmental Safety & Health Coordinator at West Kentucky RECC. 

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