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Stay safe and warm this winter

As the colder months hit, many of us are not prepared for Old Man Winter’s potential wrath.

Although our number one goal at Clay Electric Co-operative is to provide safe and reliable service — to do all we can to keep the power on — heavy snow and accumulating ice can easily bring tree limbs down onto power lines, cutting off power to homes and businesses.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises everyone to ready their home and cars, prepare for possible power outages, and to check on older adults. Be sure to have plenty of non-perishable food on hand and extra water stored in clean containers. If bad weather is forecasted, avoid travel, fully charge your cell phone and keep an up-to-date emergency kit on hand.

Specifically, the CDC recommends taking the following steps so that you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall:

Winterize your home

  • Install weather stripping, insulation and storm windows.
  • Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
  • Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.

Check your heating systems

  • Have your heating system serviced professionally to make sure that it is clean, working properly and ventilated to the outside.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
  • Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.

Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies

  • Install a CO detector to alert you of the presence of the deadly, odorless, colorless gas. Check batteries when you change your clocks in the fall and spring.
  • Learn symptoms of CO poisoning that include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
  • Keep grills, camp stoves and generators out of the house, basement and garage.
  • Use fuel-powered generators at least 20 feet away from the house.
  • Leave your home immediately if the CO detector goes off and call 9-1-1.

Prepare your car for cold weather

  • Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level.
  • Check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
  • Keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
  • Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.

Prepare emergency kits

Avoid driving, but in case you get stuck in bad weather or become stranded, an emergency kit for your car should include: cell phone, portable charger, extra batteries, blankets, food, water, booster cables, flares, tire pump, a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction), maps, flashlight, battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, and plastic bags (for sanitation).

Start with these items for an in-home emergency kit: a flashlight, a NOAA Weather Radio, extra batteries, a pre-charged portable phone power source, first-aid kit with extra medicine and baby items, if necessary.

Don’t forget specific items you or members of your family might need during an emergency.

For additional winter prep tips, consult the CDC (cdc.gov), Red Cross (redcross.org) or ready.gov. For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.