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How to survive a snowstorm at home

Larry Hillel, of East Hampton, shovels snow in

Larry Hillel, of East Hampton, shovels snow in front of his house on Main Street on Jan. 3, 2014. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Inclement weather drives many to stay indoors. But even in the comfort of your own house, there are steps you can take to ensure your safety. Here are some tips from the Nassau County Executive’s Office for surviving a storm at home:


1. Do not plow snow across the road or shovel snow from your driveway onto shoulders or roadways.

2. Do not pile snow high near intersections or driveways obstructing others’ vision. Park vehicles away from the road and follow local parking ordinances related to snow removal.

3. Keep rocks, timbers, fences, basketball hoops, garbage bins, reflectors and other items away from the road.

4. Keep sidewalks and pathways clear for pedestrians.

5. Use long-handled snow rakes or poles to clean your roof when possible. If you must use a ladder, make sure the base is secure. Ask someone else to hold the ladder while you climb.


1. Have your heating system checked by a professional annually. If you heat by wood, clean your fireplace or stove and have your chimney flue checked for any buildup of creosote.

2. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out.

3. Clean gutters; leaves and other debris will hamper drainage.

4. Replace batteries of smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors.

5. Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing, typically those near outer walls, in crawls spaces or in the attic.

6. Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.

7. Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

8. Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on an outside wall.

9. Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to get to un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

10. In case pipes burst, make sure you know how to shut off the water.

11. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.


1. Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.

2. Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters.

3. Keep the area around the fireplace clear of debris, decorations and flammable materials.

4. Do not use excessive amounts of paper when lighting a fire.

5. Avoid using liquid fire starter or other flammable liquids to start a fire.

6. Always keep a screen around an open flame.

7. Never use gasoline to start a fireplace.

8. Never burn charcoal indoors.

9. Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.


1. Call your utility provider first to determine area repair schedules.

2. Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored, leaving one light on to indicate power has been restored.

3. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce food spoilage.

4. Before installing a generator, be sure to properly disconnect from your utility electrical service. If possible, have your generator installed by a qualified electrician.

5. Never run a generator indoors. Deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generator’s exhaust can spread throughout enclosed spaces.

6. If your generator has a detachable fuel tank, remove it before refilling. Fuel spilled on a hot generator can cause an explosion.

7. If you use a kerosene heater, keep it at least 3 feet away from furniture and other flammable objects. Make sure to use only the correct fuel for your unit, and refuel outdoors when the unit is cool.


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