With a couple months of winter still ahead of us, we want to help make sure you’re ready for whatever the rest of the season may bring.
Sure, we hope the highlights of the next few months are big mugs of hot chocolate, cozy nights with loved ones, and maybe even the opportunity to enjoy some beautiful – if chilly – days outside.
But chances are we’ll all experience at least one winter storm or blizzard before summer. Here are some tips to stay safe.
Prepare now so you’re ready later.
Set up an emergency drawer or kit that’s easy to access, even in the dark. Stock it with fresh batteries, a battery-powered radio and a flashlight. It’s also a good idea to include some non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, baby items such as diapers and formula, and extra prescription medicine. Hopefully it’s a short storm, but if it continues for more than a day, you’ll be all set.
When a storm hits, do these three things.
Stay inside. Make sure your loved ones and pets are inside and stay inside. Now is not the time to try and brave icy road conditions. If you absolutely must travel, drive slowly, let someone know where you are going and what route you’ll take, make sure your phone is fully charged, pack an emergency supplies kit, and pull over if you’re having trouble seeing due to weather conditions.
Watch out for each other. If possible, call relatives, neighbors and friends to check in on them, particularly if they are elderly or live alone.
Be careful with alternative heating methods. If the power goes out, report it online or call 888-890-5554. Do not use charcoal grills to heat your home or cook indoors. Dangerous carbon monoxide fumes can build up and cause injury or death. If you use a portable generator, follow the manufacturer's safety and operating guidelines. Be sure to operate the generator in a well-ventilated area. Never operate it indoors or in your garage.
After the storm, be safe around utility equipment.
Once the storm is over, it’s time to dig out. Before you tackle that driveway, remember to pace yourself. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during winter. Give yourself a break and maybe check in with a neighbor or drink some hot chocolate (have we mentioned that we love hot chocolate?).
While playing or working in the snow, keep an eye out for downed power lines. Never touch or attempt to pick up a fallen power line and keep children and pets away. To report a downed power line, call our emergency number at 888-890-5554.
It’s also a good idea to check for snow and ice buildup on your natural gas meter. Gas meters and regulators are durable and designed with the weather in mind, but a coating of ice or snow could cause a loss of service and become a critical safety issue. If at all possible, remove the snow before it has a chance to freeze.
- Gently clear snow away by hand or with a broom. You’ll put yourself and everyone nearby at serious risk if you strike and damage any part of the meter with a shovel, ice pick or other tool. And you could be liable for expensive damage.
- Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.
- Carefully clear snow away from the outdoor vent on high-efficiency furnaces. The furnace won’t run safely and efficiently if the vent is blocked.
- Safely remove icicles hanging from overhead eaves that could fall and damage gas meters below.
- Point out the meter and any other above-ground utility structures to anyone you hire for snow removal.
As a final step we suggest – you guessed it – enjoying one more mug of hot chocolate for good measure. Cheers to a sweet, and safe. winter.
Black Hills Energy Blog
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