2014-01-10 / Columnists

Staying Safe And Warm At Home

By Dan Guarino

With the unpredictable weather and temperatures subject to sudden drops, it helps to be prepared.

Here are some tips and some information that residents in the Rockaways and Broad Channel should be aware to stay warm and keep safe this winter.

Lost your power?

Call your power provider immediately to report it.

In Broad Channel call Con Edison’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633)

If you’re in Rockaway, as of January 1st your new power company is PSE&G. You can reach their customer service line at 1-800-490-0075.

You may also want make sure you have the numbers for your oil company and/or home heating service. In areas like Breezy Point or Broad Channel that rely on propane for cooking, it’s a good idea to have your gas provider’s emergency number on hand.

The experts at New York State have a few more tips for avoiding cold weather problems with your home.

They recommend the following:

Protecting Water Pipes

To prevent frozen water pipes, protect your home, apartment or business by following the simple steps below.

Before Cold Weather

Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.

Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).

Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.

Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

When It's Cold

Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.

Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.

If you plan to be away:

Have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing, or drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If Pipes Freeze

Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow minimizes the damage to your home. Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.

Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.

Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States. Such common items as automotive exhaust, home heating systems and obstructed chimneys can produce the colorless, odorless gas. The gas can also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months.

NEVER run generators indoors. Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater.

NEVER use charcoal to cook indoors.

NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headaches and dizziness. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.

Fire Safety

Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and heaters can add a cozy glow, but make sure you are using them safely.

Always keep a screen around an open flame.

Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.

Never burn charcoal indoors.

Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.

When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, woodstove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.

Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it

Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors ... and make sure they work! Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.

Kerosene Heaters

If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Use only the correct fuel for your unit.

Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.

Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.

When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

Remember, the fire hazard is greatly increased in the winter because alternate heating sources often are used without following proper safety precautions.

Home Emergency Supplies

Winter has arrived and you should stockpile the following supplies in the event a winter storm or power outage prevents you from leaving your home:

 Flashlights and extra batteries;
 Battery-operated radio and extra batteries;  Emergency non-perishable foods that
do not require refrigeration;
 Non-electric can opener;
 Bottled water;
 One week supply of essential medicines;  Extra blankets and sleeping bags;
 First aid kit and manual;
 Fire extinguisher;
 Emergency heating equipment, used
properly.

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