Utility companies offer safety tips for winter storm - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Utility companies offer safety tips for winter storm


The major gas and electric companies in central Indiana have offered tips for homeowners to be safe during the impending winter storm.

IPL reminds residents to prepare ahead of time in case power is interrupted during the storm:

  • Discuss emergency plans and the location of supplies with your family before a storm occurs.
  • Create an emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, first aid supplies, a battery-powered radio or television, water, food that does not need to be cooked or refrigerated, and all necessary medications.
  • When using an alternate heat source such as fireplace, wood stove or portable/kerosene heater, use caution, practice fire safety and create proper ventilation.
  • If you have a chronic health condition requiring electric equipment, arrange now for a place to temporarily relocate in case of a prolonged power outage at your home.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and anything that could be touching them, like trees or fencing. You may not realize a part of a tree or fence is touching a line and has become energized. Consider all electrical lines to be charged.
  • If lights go out, use flashlights instead of candles. If you do use candles, do not leave them unattended in an empty room or burning overnight.
  • Cordless phones will not operate without electricity. Make sure cell phones are fully-charged.
  • If your power goes out, first, carefully check for blown fuses or confirm your circuit breaker is in the "on" position. Also, see if your neighbors have electricity to determine if the problem is isolated to your electric system, or if you should report your outage to IPL.

IPL customers are able to report downed power lines and outages day or night by calling the IPL's Lights Out number at 317.261.8111 or by going to www.IPLpower.com. IPL customers can also get outage and restoration updates by going to www.twitter.com/IPLpower.

Vectren issued the following release about being safe around gas lines and meters:

  • Remove large icicles hanging over meter assemblies and appliance vents.
  • If your gas meter is near a sidewalk or driveway, make sure whoever removes snow from your property is aware of its location.
  • Use a broom – not a shovel – to clear snow from your meter assembly and vents.
  • If your gas meter is encased in ice, do not attempt to melt and/or chip the ice, as this could cause damage to the meter. Allow the ice to melt on its own.
  • Particular attention should be paid when moving snow on a commercial lot. Be sure not to pile snow around gas meters.
  • Consider installing driveway entrance reflectors around gas meters in close proximity to a roadway or driveway. 
  • As always, if you suspect a gas leak or if your meter has been damaged, call Vectren at 1-800-227-1376.

Snow shoveling safety

The Wayne Township Fire Department shared the following tips from Popular Mechanics on staying safe while shoveling snow:

1. Stretch first

Don't be in a hurry to get outside. Stretch thoroughly using the same sorts of moves that runners, mountain bikers and other athletes use. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. Then dress in removable layers, grab your shovel and resist the urge to fly at the white stuff just to get the job done. Pace yourself. Start slowly and ramp up to speed.

2. Don't move snow twice

Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you're going to dump the snow. Drop the first shovelful farther away from where you are standing, then dump remaining snow closer and closer to where you are. That way, the last scoops that you shovel are moved the shortest distance. Don't block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice.

3. Move snow the shortest distance possible

Consider that everything from a driveway to a patio to a walkway is really a rectangle, and rectangles have a center point. Move the snow from the center of the rectangle to the nearest edge.

4. Clear cars first

Brush snow off cars then clear around the cars.

5. Do the foreground then the background

For example, to clear snow from a rectangle, first shovel a strip clear along the perimeter of the rectangle. Then, moving from the center to the edge, push the snow into the cleared area. Next, lift and throw the snow out of the area.

6. Maintain proper posture:

A. Use your leg muscles as much as possible - push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can't push it.
B. Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position.
C. Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible.
D. Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible.
E. Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage.
F. Don't twist your upper body as you throw snow.

7. Keep hydrated

Take bottles of water out with you and keep them accessible, either in the car or on the front stoop or somewhere else convenient.

8. Rest frequently

Clearing an area by hand means that you may lift and carry anywhere from hundreds of pounds to tons of snow.

9. Be thorough but not fussy

The sun is relatively strong this time of year. Clear an area, spread de-icer if necessary and then let the sun do the rest. The fact is, any surface color that you expose in shoveling (gray, green, brown or black) will be far less reflective than a thick blanket of snow, and remaining snow will melt more easily from that darker surface.

10. Don't overdress

You need to stay warm, but if you overdress you're going to be soaked in sweat in no time. Dress in loose-fitting layers that you can peel off as you heat up.

11. Whenever possible, team up

Shoveling with a friend or neighbor is inherently more enjoyable than shoveling on your own. Plus, it's quicker to get the job done with two or three sets of hands.

12. Go easy on the de-icer

Once the area is clear, all you need is a thin scattering of de-icer to keep it that way. If you're scattering by hand, throw the salt, pellets or granules low along the ground so they bounce and roll into a uniform layer.

13. Whenever possible, get a head start

It's easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down to have at it. If it looks like your area is going to get dumped on, try to get out there and shovel it in several passes.

14. Maintain your equipment

The front edge of a snow shovel takes a beating. If it's metal, hammer it straight when it gets bent; if it's plastic use a utility knife to carve off the burr that forms on its end. Tighten a loose handle by driving a large hex head sheet metal screw through the blade socket and into the handle.

15. Stretch when you're done

Stretch gently when you're done and use an ice pack and ibuprofen to take care of inflamed muscles. Rest and remain hydrated.

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