As bitter cold settles over the Northeast this weekend, here are steps to take to prepare for subzero temperatures, strong winds and other winter weather.
Make sure you have extra batteries in case of power outages.
Keep flashlights, extra batteries and extra blankets on hand, as well as a can opener, extra medicine, first aid supplies, emergency heat sources and a fire extinguisher, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency. Also, stock up on nonperishable foods, such as dry cereal, nuts and protein bars. The National Weather Service recommends having at least one gallon of water per person a day for three days.
Take steps to insulate your home.
If the power goes out, and you are relying on a generator, make sure to use it only outdoors, more than 20 feet away from your home. It is critical to have working carbon monoxide monitors on each floor of your home. Do not heat your home with a camp stove, oven or charcoal-burning device. Never run car engines with the garage door closed.
If your heat is working, you can retain heated air and save on electricity bills by keeping curtains closed and using adhesive barrier tape or other materials to seal drafty windows. Place rolled-up towels or rags at the base of doors leading outside, and shut the doors of unoccupied rooms to retain heat.
Ensure your water pipes do not freeze.
Protect Your Pipes, an initiative funded by water and wastewater utilities in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, recommends making sure that your thermostat is set to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher during cold weather. It also says to run the faucets that are farthest from your main valve, since even a trickle of water will keep pipes from freezing, and to open cupboards with pipes in order to keep the pipes warm. Ahead of the arrival of freezing weather, turn off water to outside spigots and drain water from the line, Protect Your Pipes advises.
Protect your pets.
In very cold weather, keep pets warm, dry and indoors whenever possible, and make sure they are drinking plenty of water, since dehydration poses additional risks in the winter. When you go outside, make sure to wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, and a hat, according to the Weather Service.
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