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Red Cross Urges Families to Prepare for Inclement Weather

As more inclement weather moves into the area, the Tennessee Volunteer Region of the American Red Cross is urging families to take appropriate actions to be prepared for hazardous conditions. The majority of winter-related incidents are caused by events related to heavy snowfall, high winds and freezing rain. People can become homebound without utilities or other services; motorists can become stranded in vehicles; walking and driving can become hazardous.

The Red Cross recommends that families prepare for the possible negative effects of winter weather in a number of ways:

  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Listen to a (NOAA) Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • If your home should lose power:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
  • Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
  • Read more about using generators safely.
  • Additional Safety Advice:
  • Use alternate heating/lighting sources wisely to avoid a house fire;
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended and make sure they are far away from flammable objects;
  • Do not use candles! Be sure to have working flashlights and extra batteries on hand for power outages; and
  • Use a generator correctly -- follow directions carefully. Never operate a generator indoors, including a basement, garage, carport or near any open windows.
  • For more information about how you can prepare for a variety of emergencies, visit for a full spectrum of specific preparedness tips.

    About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at