By Terry Rogers
Recent snowstorms and blizzards have made Milford residents more aware of their vulnerability during major storms. Storms occur year round with thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes in the summer months as well as nor’easters, blizzards and snowstorms during the winter. When storms are predicted, it is important to prepare yourself for damages that may occur during the bad weather.
“One of the biggest concerns is loss of power,” said Dan Herholdt of Satterfield & Ryan. “The fact is that power can go out at any time, not just in a storm. In the winter, if you lose power, you risk frozen pipes, sump pumps can stop working and you no longer have heat or air conditioning. If you have a family member that has medical equipment powered by electricity, this can be even more frightening.” For this reason, Mr. Herholdt suggests investing in a generator that will power your home if you do lose power.
Although there are portable generators, a standby generator is hard-wired into your home, allowing you to activate it when you need it. There are generators of all sizes available as well, so homeowners can purchase one that meets their needs, whether it is to power an entire home or just important electrical devices such as refrigerators, heat, air conditioning or medical devices.
“A generator gives you peace of mind,” Mr. Herholdt said. “Anything can cause the electric to go out, not just a storm. A squirrel getting into a transformer can cause major outages or a car accident that takes down a pole. With a generator, you can keep your house powered so you can continue to function.”
In addition to adding a generator to your home, there are other things you need to do to prepare for major storms. In the winter, be sure your snow shovel is in good condition and purchase salt or sand for sidewalks to keep them safe. During a storm, remain indoors as much as possible. Avoid overexertion while shoveling snow or removing debris after a storm. When shoveling snow, change wet clothing frequently to prevent loss of body heat and recognize the signs of frostbite. If fingers or toes appear white or paler than the rest of the skin and you experience numbness, you may be suffering from frostbite.
During winter storms, hypothermia is another danger. Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion are all signs of hypothermia. Anyone with these symptoms should get to a warm location as soon as possible. Wrap them in blankets, provide warm liquids and seek emergency medical assistance.
If you do need to travel during bad storms, inform others of your destination and when you expect to arrive. Let them know when you leave and when you arrive at the destination. If you are stuck along the way, it will allow emergency personnel to locate you since there was a predetermined route.
To thaw frozen pipes, remove any insulation and wrap the pipe in rags. Open faucets completely and pour hot water over the pipe where they were most exposed to the cold. If you use kerosene heaters, be sure to vent the area well to avoid build-up of toxic fumes.
Although extreme weather is unusual in the area, dangerous storms do occur, so following these simple tips can help you keep your family safe even when the weather turns nasty.