How to prepare your house for winter weather

Winter storms pose risks for people at home - from power outages to frozen pipes. Here's some trips on how to prepare for the worst.

Power outages

Prepare to be without power. Have food, water and a battery-operated radio.

Call 911 only for life-threatening or property-threatening emergencies.

Call Puget Sound Energy at (888) 225-5773 to report power problems, including downed power lines that aren’t threatening people.

Stay away from downed utility lines and do not touch any object that might be in contact with downed lines.

Use caution when using candles for light. Do not leave them unattended and make sure they aren’t next to flammable materials.

If the power goes out at your home, cordless phones may not work. Use a cell phone or a corded phone.

Protecting your pipes

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

Open cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

Make sure heat is left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.

If you plan to be away, have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is on, and drain and shut off the water system (except indoor sprinkler systems).

If your pipes freeze, make sure family members know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst. Stopping the water flow can minimize damage to your home. Call a plumber and your insurance agent.

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

There's always the potential for electric shock in and around standing water, so be careful.

Carbon monoxide warning

Death by carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when people use dangerous methods to keep warm when their power is out.

Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages, or mobile homes. Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home.

Never use gasoline-powered equipment indoors.

Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.

Never sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.

Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.

Carbon monoxide warning devices may provide additional protection but should not replace the other prevention steps.