Red Cross offers winter safety tips as area faces more bitter cold

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 24, 2014 at 10:57 PM

As the next wave of frigid below normal temperatures blankets the Middle Tennessee area, the American Red Cross is ready to respond if needed and has some vital safety steps for people to follow to take precautions against the cold.

Some cold weather safety tips include:

• follow the advice of your local officials and avoid driving in the snow or ice if possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

• wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

• check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

• seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

• watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

• don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

• keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.

During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, remember the following:

• never use a stove or oven to heat the home. If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

• if using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

More home fire safety tips are available at redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire.

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