Weather

How to stay safe and warm

Generators

■ Always operate a generator in a ventilated area outdoors.

■ Never connect a generator directly to the electric panel of a home.

■ Be sure the total electric load on the generator won't exceed the manufacturer's rating.

■ Never attach a generator to a home's wiring system without installing a transfer switch.

■ Use only three-prong, grounded extension cords, properly rated for the load, to connect appliances to generators.

Tree-limb disposal

■ Recycling is the preferred disposal method for vegetative debris.

■ The city will clear debris on roads or in the city's easement between sidewalk and curb.

■ Property owners are responsible for clearing any tree debris in their front and back yards.

■ If part of a tree lies in the city's easement or road, and part in a yard, the city will cut the portion blocking the easement and road. Property owner must take care of the section in the yard.

Tree safety and care

■ Don't knock ice off trees and shrubs.

■ Don't go under big trees to drag out fallen limbs. There might be more cracked or broken branches up there that could fall.

■ Don't touch any limbs on or near power lines. Call the utility company.

■ A split tree might be saved if the split isn't too deep. But trunks split down the middle are very difficult to cable and brace.

■ If the roots haven't pulled out of the ground, leave a leaning tree alone. Many will straighten up by themselves. If they need a little help, gently pull them back to their vertical positions and brace them. Mature trees left leaning because of broken roots rarely survive efforts to pull them back into place.

■ Bradford pears, silver maples, birches and willows are predictable victims. Homeowners plant fast-growing trees like these for quick shade. But such trees usually have soft wood and develop weak, V-shaped branch crotches that split easily in high winds or under the weight of ice.

■ Cut off dangling limbs that can be hazards, but don't cut more than you have to. Damage might look severe, but it's better to assess trees in the spring when dead limbs are more evident.

■ Don't operate power equipment from a ladder or in a tree where firm footing is questionable. Taking down major broken limbs might be better left to professionals with proper tools and training.

■ Don't top a tree. The new growth will look bushy, but it's weak and will break easily.

Free showers

■ Urban Active Fitness Clubs are offering Kentucky residents without power the use of its shower facilities for no charge. Bring a driver's license or identification and your own toiletries. Locations in Lexington: 230 West Main Street; 1028 Wellington Way; 3001 Blake James Drive; 3029 Blake James Drive

Gas logs

■ Never leave logs burning when you go to bed.

■ Don't cook over gas logs.

■ Turn the logs off periodically.

■ If you have vented logs, the flue must be open. If you close the flue, soot and dangerous fumes can build up.

Driving

■ Pay close attention to shady areas, bridges and overpasses, where ice forms first and stays longest.

■ Keep the gas tank nearly full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

■ Travel with a cell phone.

■ Use no-freeze windshield wiper fluid.

Hiring help

■ Get two or three written estimates, if possible.

■ Don't pay the entire amount up front.

■ Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. (859) 259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668.

Food safety

■ Keep freezer closed. A full chest freezer, kept closed, will stay cold for two to four days; an upright deep freezer will stay cold two to three days. A freezer in a refrigerator will stay cold only one to two days.

■ If the freezer isn't full, quickly group packages together so they'll insulate each other. Separate meat from other foods so it won't drip and contaminate. Move frozen foods you plan to eat during a power outage to an ice chest so you won't have to open the freezer.

■ Don't try to store food outdoors. Outdoor temperatures rise and fall, allowing food to spoil, and food can attract animals.

When power returns: If you're there when the power comes back on, immediately use a thermometer to see if the freezer has stayed below 40 degrees. If you're not home and can't tell whether the food had thawed completely before refreezing, it's safest to discard it all.

■ In the freezer: If ice crystals are visible or food feels cold, it can be refrozen safely, although quality may suffer. If the food thawed completely or was above 40 degrees for more than two hours, throw it out.

■ In the refrigerator: Fresh meat, poultry, lunch meat, hot dogs, eggs, milk, soft cheese and prepared or cooked food should be discarded if they've been above 40 degrees for more than two hours. Fruit, juice and vegetables are safe if they smell OK.

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