Extreme cold safety tips
Stay warm and informed this winter season
Portions of our service area may experience below-freezing temperatures during colder months. Learn how to prepare for winter storms, avoid cold-related health problems, and safety essentials for severe winter weather. More information on staying safe during and after a winter storm is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Indoor safety: Heat and light your home safely
- Candles are hazardous. If your power goes out, use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles, if possible. Candles can lead to house fires.
- Turning on the stove for heat is not safe. Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out: extra blankets, sleeping bags or warm winter coats; fireplace that is up to code with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace; portable space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements (used according to instructions).
- Use space heaters with great care: Keep any portable space heaters away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets.
- If using a generator, do so safely. Generators should be located outdoors and at least 20 feet from any window, door or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them. Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet, and do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite. Read more about generator safety.
- Conserve heat: Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows; close off unneeded rooms; stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors; close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.
Outdoor safety: Stay alert, dress warmly and limit your time
During extremely cold weather, try to stay indoors. Keep any trips outside as brief as possible, and keep the following tips in mind to protect your health and safety.
Safety first: Pay attention to your surroundings
- Stay away from downed power lines and equipment. During severe winter weather, power lines may be downed from falling branches or other hazards. There is no way for you to know if the line is energized or not. Call 1-800-ENTERGY to report downed lines or equipment.
- Keep your distance from working crews. Work sites can have any number of hidden dangers for the public, and distracting crews can cause accidents to happen.
- Look up. The most dangerous part of a storm is often just after it has passed. Extreme cold temperatures make many materials like wood and metal brittle, and the extra weight of snow and ice accumulation on power lines and trees can make them snap. Ice is particularly harmful to electrical lines and can increase the weight of branches by 30 times. In fact, 1/2” of ice accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight, so be sure to stay clear of falling ice or debris from above.
Safety first: Keep snow and ice clear
During a storm, keep key equipment clear of ice and snow using a broom or brush. This includes:
- Ventilation pipes for direct-vent furnaces and water heaters
- Electric heat pump units
- Dryer vents
- Outdoor meters and attached equipment
Safety first: Dress warmly and limit your time
- Wear the right clothing and layer up.
- Inner layer: Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and don’t absorb moisture. Wool, silk, or polypropylene will hold more body heat than cotton.
- Insulation layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers, like wool, goose down or a fleece work best.
- Outer layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain and snow. It should be tightly woven, and preferably water and wind resistant, to reduce loss of body heat.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing chills the body quickly. Excess sweating will cause your body to lose more heat, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.
- Don’t ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign your body is losing heat. Constant shivering is a sign that it’s time to go inside.
- If you have asthma, breathing in cold, dry air can trigger an asthma attack. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent asthma attacks when outside in winter weather, and remember to follow your asthma action plan.
Know the signs: Winter related illnesses
According to the CDC, the following are the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:
- Hypothermia: Abnormally low body temperature, which is a dangerous condition that can happen when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. In adults, warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In babies, signs include bright red, cold skin and very low energy. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If their temperature is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency. Get medical attention immediately.
- Frostbite: This is a type of injury caused by freezing. It can lead to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects, usually the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness. If you notice signs of frostbite, seek medical care.
Plan ahead: Weatherproof your home
- Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Insulate walls and attic.
- Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.
- If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year. (You can ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector.)
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside.
- Each winter season, have your furnace system and vent checked by a qualified technician to ensure they are functioning properly.
- More information on preparation is available on the CDC website.
- Find more information on Entergy’s energy efficiency programs.
Call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to report downed lines