Tips for keeping your home safe during the winter storm

A home covered in snow in Creede, Colorado

DENVER — A strong winter storm will hit Colorado beginning Tuesday night. Most of metro Denver and all of the northeastern Plains are under a blizzard warning. In other parts of the state, there are winter storm warnings, avalanche warnings and high wind warnings.

Xcel Energy provided several tips on how to keep your home safe and warm during the storm:

1. Keep natural gas and electrical equipment free of snow: Keep both gas meters and furnace vents clear. Xcel recommends clearing snow from the entire meter assembly, associated piping and the roofline above the meter. Also, do not use a snowblower near a meter; use a shovel instead. Finally, check often to ensure melting snow isn’t dripping onto the meter.

2. Be careful when using snow removal equipment: Electrical boxes, gas equipment and other important infrastructure may be hidden by the snow.

3. Stay away from downed power lines: Powerful winds are expected in all of Colorado east of the Rockies. If you see a power line that is on or near the ground, assume that it is live and dangerous. If you see a downed line, leave the area and report it immediately by calling: 1-800-895-1999.

4. Build a home emergency kit: Xcel recommends having an emergency kit at home with the following supplies:

  • Battery-powered radio or TV
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Back-up phone chargers
  • A phone that does not require electricity
  • Non-electric alarm clock
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Extension cord
  • Instruction manuals on how to operate garage doors and other power-operated doors without electricity

5. Use care when operating a space heater: If you are using a space heater or similar device to warm your home, use caution. Xcel says roughly 65,000 home fires are attributed to space heaters each year in the U.S. Ensure your space heater has a label showing it is listed by a recognized testing lab. Also, do not use a heater with cables or plugs that are worn or damaged. Never leave a space heater unattended and do not sleep with a space heater on.

6. Sign up for outage notifications: Xcel offers a smartphone app (search “Xcel Energy”) that allows customers to receive updates about power outages in their area. Xcel will also provide updates on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Xcel customers can report outages via the app, online or by calling 1-800-895-1999.

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