PALawHelp.orgPALawHelp.org

PUC Offers Tips on How to Stay Safe and Warm During Cold Weather

Authored By: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission


January 4, 2018


With frigid temperatures blasting Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded residents across the state that preparation and awareness are essential parts of winter safety.

 “It is important to take a few minutes to address some ways to help keep yourself and your family safe and warm during this cold weather,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown.

 Emergency cold weather heating tips include:

 Be Safe

  • Do not use propane lanterns inside.
  • When using a kerosene heater, provide adequate ventilation and refuel the heater outdoors.
  • If using a fireplace, open a window for ventilation. Closing the glass doors will prevent a draft when it is not in use. Burn only wood or artificial logs. Also, a fireplace screen can help prevent your carpet or floor from catching fire.
  • Do NOT supplement heat by using a gas stove. 

Be Prepared

  • Write down, print or save toll-free outage hotlines for your electric utility and/or your natural gas utility, which are listed on the PUC website.
  • Save the internet address for your utility’s outage reporting system, which can provide updates on repair and restoration efforts. Those electric utility outage sites and natural gas company websites are available on the PUC website.
  • Keep your cell phone charged, so you can contact your utility, other emergency services and family members.
  • Secure necessary food, medicine and other supplies, including batteries for flashlights in the event of an emergency.
  • If you use a generator, do NOT run it inside a home or garage. Also, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, not your home's electrical system, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearby power lines. Additional generator tips are available here.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might require additional assistance.

Seal Up and Turn Down

  • Instead of turning up the heat, add an extra blanket or sweater, if your health permits.
  • Use a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night or whenever the house is unoccupied, to keep costs in check.
  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. This includes overhead doors on attached garages.
  • Seal off unused rooms. Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed in those areas.
  • Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day.  Close coverings at night to keep the heat in.
  • Weatherstrip windows and doors, and caulk windows.

Visit the Commission’s website for a short video featuring storm safety information and a list of home heating safety tips. Additionally, as part of the annual “Prepare Now” campaign, the Commission continues to appeal to utilities to increase their efforts to educate consumers about other resources that may be available, such as grants under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) – with information available through local County Assistance Offices or via the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.

The PUC emphasizes that consumers without utility service should understand their rights and responsibilities, including additional options that may be available for those who are seriously ill or are facing other unique circumstances, such as a protection from abuse order. Consumers should call their utility first to make arrangements to pay their bill. If they are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, the PUC may be able to provide assistance. The PUC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.