Reminders for staying warm, healthy during power outages
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With the threat of ice accumulation comes the possibility of power outages and slick roads that could strand drivers away from their intended destinations.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and American Red Cross offer the following tips to stay safe while at home and on the roads during icy weather:
• To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, use generators, pressure washers, grills, and similar items outdoors only.
• If the power is out longer than two hours, throw away food that has a temperature higher than 40°F.
• Check with local authorities to be sure your water is safe.
• In cold weather, wear layers of clothing, which help to keep in body heat.
• Avoid power lines and use electric tools and appliances safely to prevent electrical shock.
• If the power is out for less than 4 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
• If the power is out for longer than 4 hours, follow the guidelines below:
• For the Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
• For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
• Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safe Drinking Water:
• When the power goes out, water purification systems may not be functioning fully.
• Your local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area. Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.
• Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula. If possible, use baby formula that does not need to have water added.
• If you use bottled water, be sure it came from a safe source. If you do not know that the water came from a safe source, you should boil or treat it before you use it. Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
• Boiling water, when practical, is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms.
• If you don't have clean, safe, bottled water and if boiling is not possible, you often can make water safer to drink by using a disinfectant, such as unscented household chlorine bleach, iodine, or chlorine dioxide tablets.
• Make sure that the path to your door, garage and mailbox are shoveled and free of debris.
• If walkways are icy, melt down the ice by sprinkling salt over the slippery area or cover the ice with something gritty or non-slippery. Remember, the thicker the ice, the longer it takes to melt. Ideally you should sprinkle salt before or immediately after a storm, especially in areas of the driveway or sidewalk you know are prone to being icy.
• Allow yourself plenty of time to get where you need to go in winter weather. Taking your time will reduce your risk of falling, especially if you use an assistive walking device.
• Dress for the weather! If you do happen to fall, it is important to stay as warm as possible while you wait for help to arrive.
• Everyone, especially the elderly and ill, should have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and sources of heat.
• Blankets can help, even in poorly heated rooms.
• In cold weather, wear layers of clothing and a hat, which help to keep in body heat.
• Move around. Physical activity raises body temperature.
• Water cooler than 75°F (24°C) removes body heat more rapidly than can be replaced. The result is hypothermia.
• Avoid wading in water.
• Ensure clothing and boots have adequate insulation.
• Change into dry clothing as soon as possible if you do get wet.
For more information and tips, visit the TEMA website: http://www.tnema.org/news/tema/.