Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Power!

Ok, so the title of this posting is a bit deceiving. Today I am writing to discuss a problem occuring throughout the United States as ice storms wreak havoc on power supplies. If you find yourself without power here are a few things to bear in mind:

If you are staying in your home:
If you do not have heat, close unneeded rooms, stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors, and cover the windows at night.
Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Do not consume alcoholic beverages, as this can dehydrate the body and cause it to lose heat.
Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
Use flashlights or other battery-powered lights instead of candles, if possible. If you must use candles, place them in candleholders and away from anything that could catch fire. Never leave a burning candle unattended or sleep with candles burning.
When using a fireplace, wood stove or space heater for heat or if you are using a generator for electricity, practice fire safety and observe the precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning given below.

Protecting Against Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
Fireplaces, wood stoves and portable heaters and generators are often used when power outages occur. These and other appliances produce carbon monoxide, which can be fatal if people are exposed to high levels even for a brief time. CO cannot be seen or smelled and can kill in minutes.
Tips to avoid CO poisoning include:
Never run a generator or any petroleum-fueled (kerosene, propane, gasoline) engine or appliance inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
Keep vents and fireplace flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
Never run a motor vehicle, generator or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
Regularly check and properly maintain fuel-burning appliances, especially when in use.
Carefully monitor household members for signs of CO poisoning.
Exposure to CO can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.
Anyone who suspects symptoms of CO poisoning should go outside and seek fresh air immediately. If a person has collapsed or is not breathing, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance immediately from a safe location.

Food Safety
Winter storms and power outages mean food safety issues require special attention:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
Refrigerated foods should be kept at 40F or below.
Check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the appliance thermometer reads 40F or below, the food is safe and may be kept refrigerated. It is safe to refreeze the food, but the quality and flavor of the food may be affected.
If a thermometer has not been kept in the unit, check each package of food after power is restored. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook and use. Do not rely on appearance or odor to determine if food is safe.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4-6 hours and the refrigerator door was kept closed.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40F for two hours or more.
Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!



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  2. Mike,
    Thanks for a really informative post. Is there a website address or a link where people could get more information on winter safety tips?
    volunteer PIO

  3. Just a link would be better.

  4. There are lots of websites with the information. A search for "power outage tips" will yield a results.

  5. More Power! Less Alcohol! If people are going to Derek's party, remember if you drink, do not drive. If you go to any party, do not drink and drive. Remember your community depends on you and this is not a joking matter.


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