What to Do During Snowy Weather and a Power Outage
Check local weather reports and any notifications. by phone, television or radio. Utility officials may come to your door to alert you of a planned power outage. If available, sign up for local alerts and warning systems to notify you through a call or text to your phone.
Contact your support network.
Let people in your network know that you are OK, check to see if they’re OK, and tell each other if you need help.
Keep food cold and when in doubt, throw it out.
Eat your fresh, perishable foods first. Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer to preserve cool temperatures. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Measure the food temperature in your refrigerator and freezer with a thermometer. Throw out food that has been warmer than 40 degrees F.
Prevent power overloads and fire hazards.
Unplug appliances and electronics to avoid power overloads or damage from power surges. Use flashlights, not candles. Turn off the utilities only if you suspect damage or if local officials instruct you to do so. Your gas line can only be turned on by a qualified professional. If any circuit breakers have been tripped, contact an electrician to inspect them before turning them on.
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Don’t use a gas stove to heat your home and do not use outdoor stoves indoors for heating or cooking. If using a generator, keep it outside in a well ventilated area away from windows.
Decide if you need to stay or go. Evacuate if your home is too hot or too cold, or if you have medical devices that need power. Communities often provide warming or cooling centers and power charging stations.
Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snow Blowing Injuries
Snow removal is more than just another necessary household chore. All that bending and lifting of heavy snow can put you at serious risk for orthopedic injury and place undue stress on your heart. Snow removal can be especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2018, more than 137,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics for injuries that happened while shoveling or using snowblowers.
The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations.
General Tips for Safe Snow Clearing
- Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It is also important to wear the appropriate head covering and thick, warm socks. Choose gloves or mittens that will keep your hands warm, dry, and blister-free. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.
- Start early. Try to clear snow early and often—particularly if a large snowfall is expected. It is always best to begin shoveling/snow blowing when there is just a light covering of snow on the ground. Starting early will give you the best chance possible to avoid the potential injuries that come with moving packed, heavy snow.
- Make sure you can see. Be sure that you can fully see the area that you are shoveling/snow blowing. Do not let a hat or scarf block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.
- Check with your doctor if you have any medical problems. Clearing snow places a great deal of stress on the heart—so if you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, you should speak with your doctor before shoveling or snow blowing. You may also wish to consider hiring someone to remove the snow, rather than doing it yourself.
Tips for Snow Shoveling
- Warm up your muscles. Shoveling can be a vigorous activity. Before you begin this physical workout, warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise.
- Pace yourself. Snow shoveling and snow blowing are aerobic activities. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency care.
- Proper equipment. Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
- Proper lifting. Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once—this is particularly important in the case of heavy, wet snow. Do it in pieces.
- Safe technique. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.
Stay safe out there!!
– APTS and the SafePath Team