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Red Cross Offers Winter Safety Tips as Ice Buries Eastern Seaboard


A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain covered much of the eastern states in an icy coating overnight, and weather experts say more winter weather could be on the way this weekend. The American Red Cross has steps people can follow to remain safe and warm during this latest wintry blast.

The best thing people can do is stay inside if possible and avoid unnecessary travel. If someone must go outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep them warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Other safety tips include:

  • Prevent frozen pipes by opening cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
  • Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
  • If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must:
    • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
    • Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
    • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
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This latest ice storm is expected to cause power outages along the eastern seaboard. If your power is out, there are things you can do to help ensure your safety until the power is turned back on. Do not use candles for lighting. Use flashlights only. If you are using a portable generator, do not connect it to your home’s electrical system. Instead, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Leave one light turned on so you will know when your power returns. Turn off or disconnect appliances or electronics you were using when the power went out. Surges or spikes when the power comes back on can damage your equipment.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Use perishable foods in the refrigerator first. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. Then use food from the freezer, which will hold its temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed (24 hours if the freezer is only half full). If it looks like your power will be out for more than a day, use a cooler with ice for food in your freezer.

For more information on winter storm safety, visit www.redcross.org.