Weather Forecasters are predicting record cold temperatures to blast the Central Pennsylvania area this week. Today and tonight temperatures are only supposed to climb up to 17 degrees and will dip down to at least 6 degrees tonight! After we get through the next 24 hours of extreme cold we’ll need to keep our eyes on Monday night through Tuesday night next week where the air temperatures are predicted to reach -3 degrees and won’t top 11 degrees during the day Tuesday. The temperatures being forecasted are dangerous and come with a lot of hazards that you need to be aware of.
With these blistering temperatures and high winds comes the possibility of power outages, which presents a lighting and heating problem. If there is a power outage make sure you are using battery powered flashlights and battery powered lanterns instead of candles or fuel burning light sources. This will reduce the potential for accidents with open flame.
If you are going to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater take extreme care and follow all manufacturer’s instructions for proper use. Here are some simple safety tips to help avoid fire hazards in the extreme cold if the power goes out:
If you are using a space heater (which we don’t recommend), make sure to keep flammable objects away from the unit. Items that can ignite easily such as curtains, clothes, or furniture should be kept clear of the immediate area around a space heater.
When heating your home with a fireplace or woodstove, make sure they are properly vented outside and that there are no cracks or leaks in the flue that could leak carbon monoxide into the air in your home. You should also have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. This requires some preparation before the cold weather hits, but will allow you to safely use your woodstove or fireplace when you need to.
Carbon Monoxide Hazards
The extreme cold weather keeps people inside and will tend to lead people to use their furnace more. If you heat your home with a fuel like oil or gas you need to be aware of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. The leak of carbon monoxide can come from any piece of equipment that burns and isn’t being exhausted properly, this can include a cracked heat exchanger in your furnace, a generator that isn’t being used properly.
Signs to look for with carbon monoxide poisoning include:
Shortness of breath
Loss of consciousness
In severe cases, death.
If you suspect that you or someone in your home is experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning immediately leave the home and get into fresh air. You should also immediately seek medical attention.
Cold Weather Common Sense
All in all just take a moment to think ahead in the extreme cold. Make sure you are properly dressed and have extra dry clothing handy should you need to change. Keep the blankets nearby and always have extra flashlights and batteries on hand.
If you are going to be outside, make sure you aren’t exposed to the cold any longer than you need to be and try to limit the time that you spend outdoors. Don’t forget about your pets either, make sure they aren’t outside for extended periods of time.