Household safety important during winter storms

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With a heavy winter storm finally winding down across the state, residents are urged to think about household safety as they adapt to being snowed in for a while.

The National Weather Service reports that snow is slacking off for much of Delaware. However, snow accumulations are already well over the one foot mark in many locations from Laurel to Greenville.

DelDOT road crews have worked since pre-dawn hours, but constant snow fall, coupled with high winds, areas that have been partially cleared have usually been overblown with snow.

For those who are now housebound, it is important to avoid actions that could lead to accidents or emergencies. Should there be power outages, candles or other unshielded open flame lamps should not be used as a light source. Make sure your flashlights or battery operated lanterns are handy. If using auxiliary heat sources, such as small electric heaters, do not stretch cords across rooms or place cords under rugs.

If using kerosene heaters, make sure there is adequate ventilation. Never leave such heating appliances unattended.

If you do experience a power outage, open your refrigerator and freezer as little as possible. Food will remain frozen in a freezer or stay fresh in a refrigerator for several hours if not opened too frequently.

According to Delmarva Power, if you use a gas powered generator during a power outage, keep it outside to ensure that the exhaust is properly ventilated. They should not be operated in a garage or basement or near an open window.

Appliances should be connected directly to the generator with an extension cord. Do not connect a portable electric generator to household wiring without properly isolating the home’s electric system from the local power system. This will help minimize the risk of injury or death to others who are near or working on the system.

Those who do go outside should wear layers of clothing and a hat and gloves. Keeping ears and fingers protected is important, especially for children and for all ages during windy conditions. If shoveling snow, use caution when bending and lifting, let your legs do more work than your back and shoulders. Pace yourself, especially if you are not used to regular aerobic exercise. Don’t strain your heart for the sake of a snow-free walk.

With the deep accumulations of snow, pets that are allowed outside should be watched carefully and accompanied if possible. Deep snow and white-out conditions can be very disorienting to pets. Pads of paws can also suffer from prolonged exposure to cold.