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So far in our Winter Safety Series, we’ve focused on things within the walls of your home that you have direct control over during the cold winter months. You can make safe decisions with your heating equipment, monitor what’s plugged into your electrical outlets, and follow the other safety tips we covered in our previous posts to prevent accidents and fires in your homes during this time of the year. But, like all seasons, there are dangerous aspects of winter that you can’t have as much control over, and the biggest one during this season that affects a large majority of the United States is severe winter storms.

The National Fire Protection Association has this to say about winter storms: “Most of the U.S. is at risk for winter storms, which can cause dangerous and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy road conditions, downed trees and power lines can all wreak havoc on our daily schedules —not to mention putting ourselves and those we love in danger! While we can’t keep a storm from coming, we can be prepared for when they do. Here are some tips from the NFPA to follow before those big winter storms come our way:

  • Test all smoke alarms. Do this at least once a month. This way you will know they are working. Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Test the alarms.

  • Plan two ways out of the home in case of an emergency. Clear driveway and front walk of ice and snow. This will provide easy access to your home.

  • Make sure your house number can be seen from the street. If you need help, firefighters will be able to find you.

  • Be ready in case the power goes out. Have flashlights on hand. Also have battery-powered lighting and fresh batteries. Never use candles.

  • Stay aware of winter weather. Listen to the television or radio for updates. Watch for bulletins online.

  • Check on neighbors. Check on others who may need help.

  • Generators should be used outdoors. Keep them away from windows and doors. Do not run a generator inside your garage, even if the door is open.

  • Stay away from downed wires. Report any downed wires to authorities.

  • Be ready if the heat stops working. Use extra layers of clothes and blankets to stay warm. If you use an emergency heat source, keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away.

  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room. Turn them off when you go to bed.

Luckily, Spring will be on its way in the weeks to come, but until then, these tips should help you stay as safe as you can in the event of bad winter weather.