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Good safety advice for the cold, cold weather

By Times Staff

With bitter cold weather settled into Sullivan County, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is encouraging Hoosiers to be prepared.
Cold weather precautions
• Hoosiers should limit their exposure by staying indoors. Make trips outside as brief as possible.
• If spending time outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing, and cover any exposed skin with a hat, scarf, and gloves.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
• Pet owners should be especially sensitive to their animal’s limits when outside. Bring pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water. Be aware of local ordinances regarding outdoor pets.
Space heaters and other alternative heating
• Appliances such as ovens should never be used for heating. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Do not close the fireplace damper too early while ashes are still hot. Doing so can force dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into the home.
• Keep at least a three-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times.
• Space heaters should be kept away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.
• Only one space heater should be plugged into each electrical outlet. Never overload electrical outlets.
• Do not leave space heaters on in unoccupied rooms.
• If it is necessary to purchase a space heater, consider purchasing one with a built-in tilt sensor that automatically shuts off if tipped over.
• Refuel kerosene space heaters outside the home in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to let them cool down first if they were recently used.
• Use only dry, seasoned firewood to prevent build-up of creosote, which can prevent the chimney from venting properly.
• Avoid using flammable liquid to start fires in fireplaces or wood stoves. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case the fire gets out of control.
Power outage plan
• Citizens should look up their electric utility’s outage reporting phone number and add it to their cellphone contact list.
• Get ready by charging all cell phones, laptops and any other battery-operated accessories to ensure maximum battery life when without power. Most cellphones can be used to receive important updates on weather and power outages.
• Identify the most insulated and interior room available and gather warm blankets, sleeping bags and layers to help family members stay warm.
• Wood-burning and gas-powered fireplaces may still be options. Only use if they have been properly inspected and are in working order. Do not use a cook stove, oven, grill, etc., as a source to heat a home.
• Rooms can be further insulated with blankets or other barrier materials over windows.
• Ensure that items in preparedness kits, for the home and especially for cars, are up to date.
• Gather medications and other needed items in case power goes out.
· Know how to determine if it is safe to travel and know where to go should the power go out. Identify a friend or family member’s house now, or a nearby shelter.
Needed supplies to have on hand
• Food and water for three days (include one gallon of water per person, per day)
• Battery operated or hand crank all hazard radio
• Flashlight
• Extra batteries for radio and flashlight
• Extra clothing, warm blankets, sleeping bags for insulation
• Special items (baby formula, insulin, medications)
Should the power go out:
• Notify the electric utility right away.
• Gather everyone in the most insulated and interior room available.
• Turn off and unplug most electronic devices to avoid a power surge. Leave one light on to know when the power has been restored.
• Check travel conditions before determining if evacuation is necessary. If leaving the home, take medications and other must-need items, along with extra clothing to a friend or family member’s house, or a nearby shelter.
• Consider taking the time to check on neighbors, especially those with medical conditions.
• Monitor weather conditions and updates on a charged cellphone.
For more winter weather preparedness information, visit To keep up with developments on social media, visit or @IDHS on Twitter.

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