Here are some tips to keep you, your family and pets safe during the frigid weather:
- Bring pets inside. If you're cold, they're cold. If you can't, make sure outdoor animals have adequate shelter, unfrozen water and food.
- Prepare at home with emergency supplies that include three days' food and water; a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries to hear local information if the power is out; a first aid kit and necessary medications; blankets and warm clothing, supplies for special members of your household, and pet items.
- Drivers should keep an emergency winter kit in vehicles. Include bottles of water and granola bars or other non-perishable food; bags of sand or cat litter to provide traction under tires; hats, gloves and blankets; and cell phone chargers.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet from other objects. Never leave them unattended.
In case of power outages, use flashlights instead of candles for light.
- Charge mobile devices.
- Use generators only outdoors and only in well ventilated areas and follow manufacturer's instructions exactly.
The Centers for Disease Control says children and senior citizens can be especially susceptible to the cold weather.
- Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness.
- If you notice any of those warning signs, doctors say you should take the person's temperature. If it's below 95 degrees, you should get them medical attention immediately.
- Symptoms of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, swelling and numbness.
- If you see these symptoms, you should get into a warm room as soon as possible and warm the affected area with body heat or warm, not hot, water.
Recommended winter heating guidelines associated with natural gas that can help keep homes and businesses safe from Virginia Natural Gas:
- Exercise caution removing snow or ice from your natural gas meter. Use your hands or a broom, not a shovel or mechanized equipment, to brush away snow or ice from your outdoor meter. Never kick or hit your gas meter or its piping with a hammer or any hard object to break away built-up snow or ice.
- Following a weather emergency, ensure the natural gas meter is visible at all times and accessible to emergency responders.
- Heavy snow and ice may weigh down power lines and tree limbs, causing them to fall. If a natural gas meter is damaged or gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call the 24-hour emergency response line, at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location.
- To ensure the safe, proper operation of natural gas appliances, such as a furnace and water heater, and to prevent a potentially hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide within your home, ensure that outdoor vent openings and air intakes are not obstructed by snow or ice. Some direct-vent and high-efficiency equipment have outdoor vents and air intakes that are connected to the appliance and are directly located on the exterior wall of a home or business.
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