As an arctic freeze that hit most of the country in the last few weeks caused at least nine deaths, Americans may benefit from expert tips on how to stay safe during a winter emergency.
To compound the problem, during recessionary times many people seek to cut down on heating expenses when temperatures drop. "There is usually an increase in home fires at this time of year because of the use of candles and space heaters," says Scott Conner, Red Cross senior vice president for Preparedness and Health and Safety Services.
The organization recommends keeping flammable items at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, fireplaces and stoves, and never leave such equipment unattended.
It also says that families can lower their bills by using either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround windows and door moldings. Moving furniture away from vents, closing off rooms that aren’t in use and opening curtains during the day to let the sun help warm the home, while closing them at night to keep cold air out, is also a good idea.
When going outdoors, it is best to dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, use gloves or mittens, waterproof and insulated boots as well as a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.