Staying Safe During Ice Storms
With the Southeast facing winter conditions over the next few days, it is important to examine the threat posed by snow and ice conditions, and the safety measures that should be enacted to make sure that you don’t end up sustaining an injury.
Heavy buildups of ice from winter storm conditions may take a serious toll on trees and power lines, and this may cause widespread power outages that can last for several days. In emergencies such as these, restoring the power and heat for customers is the top priority for utility companies, and many times crews will work around the clock until all power is fully restored.
Until that time, there are steps you can take to remain safe. For starters, stay away from any downed power lines. Ice often causes lines to collapse where they can pose a serious hazard to anyone who comes in contact with them. Also remember that tree limbs and other debris may hide power lines or other hazards.
If you do encounter downed lines, treat them as if they are live and energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric company. If possible, stay near the power lines to keep others away, but do not approach them under any circumstances. A live power line may appear dead if it is sagging close to the ground. Do not be fooled. Other utility lines may become energized just by being in contact with a power line. Even dead power lines can suddenly become live as power is restored by electrical crews. This is another reason to stay away.
You should also maintain body heat during outages due to ice storms or if you find yourself out in the midst of one. Loss of body heat or hypothermia can rapidly become life threatening. Stay inside as much as possible and dress in warm layers of clothing. Close off unneeded rooms and concentrate on heating the areas where you spend most of your time, such as family rooms and bedrooms. Stuff towels and rags under the doors to keep the heat in, and cover all windows at night to prevent heat from escaping.
If you are using an alternative heating source, be sure to follow the operating instructions to the letter, with proper fire safeguards in place. Units like this should be properly ventilated.
Be sure to eat as regularly as possible, since this allows the body to create its own heat, and drink fluids to remain hydrated. Move around to keep the blood flowing and to remain warm. Try to avoid working up a sweat however.
Do not use a charcoal grill to cook or heat the inside of the home, as these grills give off deadly carbon monoxide gas. These units should only be used outdoors.
If the ice storm has resulted in power outages, then unplug all electrical appliances. This will prevent damage from electrical surges that often occur whenever power is restored.
For damage resulting from ice storms, call your local water restoration professional.