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Preparing your home for winter storms

Preparing your family and your home for rough winter weather can often help you avoid disaster. CUB compiled helpful tips.

1. Weatherize your home. Complete weatherization tasks, like the ones included in the list below, and protect your home and your wallet.

  • Clean or repair heating and cooling systems.
  • Install duct and pipe insulation.
  • Assess fire hazards and install appropriate alarm systems.
  • Seal drafts around windows and doors with weatherstripping.

Illinois consumers have access to additional weatherization resources through their electric and natural gas companies (i.e. ComEd, Ameren, Nicor, Peoples Gas). For more information, visit your local utility company’s website and CUB’s gas and electric pages.

2. Know the numbers for your local and state emergency management agencies. The State of Illinois has a number of emergency resources available to people in need.

3. Keep an emergency kit stocked. This kit should include practical items such as bottled water, snacks, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and a first aid kit. We hope you never need to use such supplies, but it never hurts to be fully prepared. Experts say that you should have enough supplies to last three days, including one gallon of water per person per day and at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

4. Sign up for your utility’s outage alert system. Ameren and ComEd offer a messaging service that sends you texts about outage information in your area, such as estimated restoration times. This will keep you up to date in an emergency situation.

If you experience a failure, call your utility immediately so it can restore your power as quickly as possible.

5. Follow these guidelines if you experience an outage:

  • Stay away from fallen or low-hanging wires or anything they contact. Don’t try to help utility workers by moving branches off the lines. Keep a safe distance.
  • Stay alert for natural gas odors. If you smell natural gas, or if you hear a blowing or hissing noise, leave the area immediately and call your utility.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • First use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be safe to eat. Next, use food from the freezer. Then, use your non-perishable foods and staples.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.