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Winter safety tips

Thousands of Vermonters lost power during last week’s storm. The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes offered the following tips to keep families safe and warm if the power goes out.

Family Safety
Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand.
During the power outage, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information—that’s what your battery-powered radio is for.
Turn off all lights but one, to alert you when power resumes.
Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
Keep extra cash on hand since an extended power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.
Check on elderly neighbors, friends or relatives who may need assistance during the outage.

Keeping Warm
Put on layers of warm clothing. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.
If you are using a gas heater or fireplace to stay warm, be sure the area is properly ventilated.
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345)

Food
Keep a supply of non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies and pet food as appropriate on hand. Be sure to have at least one gallon of water per person per day on hand.
Avoid opening the fridge or freezer. Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than four hours.

Generators
Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. Use gas-powered generators only in well-ventilated areas.
Connect only individual appliances to portable generators.
Don’t plug emergency generators into electric outlets or hook them directly to your home’s electrical system as they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.
Consider purchasing and professionally installing a permanent home generator.

When Power Returns
When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
When power is restored, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate further problems caused by a sharp increase in demand.