Safe Storm Preparation

Preparation and patience are the keys to getting through severe storms. By following these tips, you will be as prepared in case severe weather hits:

 Check medications that require refrigeration. You may want to talk with your pharmacist to be sure if any medications will be affected by prolonged power outages. Keeping a small cooler handy may be a good solution.

 Put refrigerator and freezer at coldest settings a half-day or so before a storm is forecast to strike. Throw a blanket over your refrigerator and freezer to provide extra insulation. Don't forget to return settings to normal once the storm has passed.

 Get extra ice for your freezer and refrigerator. Use plastic bags filled with ice. Block ice is best for the refrigerator. If the ice melts, you can drink the water.

 Keep extra water on hand, especially if you depend on a water pump that could be disabled in a storm. Sanitize and fill spare containers with water for drinking. Fill the bathtub with water for use in the toilet.

 Be prepared to cook outside. Use your backyard grill or camping stove for cooking, however, do not use the grill or stove indoors. A grill or camping stove must have proper ventilation or the carbon monoxide it creates can be deadly.

 Stock up on batteries and easy-to-prepare food. Give yourself the greatest flexibility in preparing meals and the greatest comfort when it gets dark. Don't forget plenty of flashlights or camping lanterns, batteries and a manual can opener.

 Have alternative sources of heat. Even a gas or oil furnace needs electricity to operate. If you have a fireplace or wood stove as an alternative heat source, be sure you have enough dry wood. Have extra blankets and/or sleeping bags readily available. A portable electric generator can be a valuable backup source of power to operate your furnace and appliances. Make sure your generator is installed by a professional. Go to "Generator Facts" for important information on generator safety.

 Unplug sensitive electrical equipment. Voltage irregularities can occur during or after a storm, especially if there has been damage on or near your home. The safest thing to do is to unplug any sensitive electronic equipment, such as your TV, VCR, stereo, microwave, computer, answering machine, cordless phone, garage door opener, etc. Make sure you have surge suppressors installed on your electronic equipment for everyday protection against surges.

 Fill your car's gas tank. You never know when you may have to leave your home. Also, your automobile can be a place to get warm, as long as you keep the exhaust well ventilated and don't sleep while the motor is running.

 Plan to live without everyday tools that need electricity, like your garage door opener or electric can opener.

 Keep a battery-operated radio handy to stay informed with the storm's progress. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand.

 Stay away from downed power lines. Don't drive over downed lines or try to move a downed line and if a downed line is in or near water, keep your distance from the water, even a little puddle. And whether a power line is down or not, don't touch anything that might be in contact with the line, like a tree limb.

 In frigid weather, if your power is likely to be out for more than a few days, you may want to drain your home's water pipes so they don't freeze and burst.

With a little preparation, you should be able to weather a storm with ease.