Winter Weather Safety Tips

Prepare for Every Possibility!

Before, during, and after a storm, there are a few key things to consider to keep your family and your home as safe as possible.

Create an emergency plan:

Work with your family to create a plan in the event of a winter storm. As part of this effort, make sure to post contact information for emergency services and utility companies—including your local propane supplier. You should also post instructions for turning off your propane, electricity, and water. (If you turn off your propane, contact a service technician to inspect your system before turning it back on.) 

  • Make sure to keep a water supply available and have non-perishable food handy. Don’t forget your pets! You can create a winter weather survival kit that should include:
  • A flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
  • Extra food and water. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
  • Extra medicine and baby items.
  • First aid supplies.
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.
  • Learn to use properly to prevent a fire, and be sure to have proper ventilation.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector. Test your units regularly to ensure they are working properly.

Install a UL-Listed gas detector and CO sensor
To better prepare for any potential damage, install a UL-listed gas detector in your home, which will notify you if a leak ever occurs. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to installation, location, and maintenance.
A carbon monoxide sensor is also an important addition to any home that uses a fossil fuel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 430 people in the United States die each year from accidental CO poisoning and approximately 50,000 people visit the emergency room.  More than 8% of those visiting the OR are hospitalized.
You won’t know that you have a carbon monoxide leak without a working alarm. So, test alarms regularly and replace them every five to seven years depending on the manufacturer’s label. For the best protection, have carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

Carbon monoxide alarms are not interchangeable with smoke alarms, and vice versa. Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are available. According to the EPA, these need to be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor. Many are plug-in and installed directly in receptacles.

Check & Clear out exhaust pipes
While the exhaust vents and pipes should be well above the snow level, please keep exhaust vents are clear of snow and ice. Blocked exhaust vent pipes prevent the burned fuel fumes from exiting your home properly, leading to a backup of carbon monoxide inside your home.

Plan for Communications
Keep a battery-powered radio handy, so you always have a way to receive updates on weather conditions. As storms approach, it’s also smart to charge up your smartphones, so you have an additional tool for communication through a long power outage. Or, consider purchasing a propane generator so you always have reliable power, even during blackouts.
Don’t forget to check on your neighbors! 
Inspect damage cautiously
If a storm causes harm to your property, be careful when you assess damage as downed power lines, damaged gas lines, and dislodged propane tanks can lead to dangerous situations. In the dark, use a flashlight instead of candles to avoid combustion in the case of a leak.

Your utility company, fire department, and propane supplier have expert training, and should handle any potentially dangerous situations with your home’s systems. Additionally, if a storm damages your property, it’s a good idea to have a qualified service technician perform a complete inspection of your propane system, to ensure no harmful damage was done. If you suspect something is wrong with your propane system, call us at 800-874-1975.
Portions of this article were reprinted from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).