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Tips for Home Owners to Weather Old Man Winter

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While the danger from severe winter weather varies across central Illinois, nearly all of us, regardless of where they live, are likely to face the extreme cold and subzero wind chills over the next couple days.  One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and freeze pipes to homes.  The American Red Cross has a few tips to help home owners weather Old Man Winter.

Frozen Pipes

  • 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.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, 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 because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
  • 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.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

For tips on thawing pipes, please click here.

Important tips for staying safe during a power outage.

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed; an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for at least a few hours.
  • Know what food is safe to eat. Health and safety experts recommend throwing out these foods if they have not been refrigerated for four or more hours: meat/poultry/seafood; dairy products; cooked pasta; eggs and egg substitutes; casseroles/soups/stews; mayo and tartar sauce.
  • If the power goes off while you are using appliances, turn them off immediately; by doing this, you reduce the risk of overloading their circuitry when the power comes back on.
  • Keep batteries and flashlights in a central, easily accessible location known to everyone. Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles! They are a fire hazard.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (relative, friend, or shelter) that has heat to keep warm.
  • Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information. Do not call 9-1-1 for information, only call to report a life-threatening emergency.

Safe home heating

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel – such as paper, clothing, bedding and rugs — at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

For more home heating safety tips, please click here.