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Steps to protect yourself from extreme cold

Winter Heating
Posted at 2:25 PM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 07:58:52-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the extreme cold temperatures approach later this week, some renters may deal with a furnace going out or not having heat in the home. It’s important to know what to do if this happens.

If your furnace goes out in your home, first contact your landlord. If the problem is with the furnace itself, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

If your landlord is unresponsive or refuses to fix the furnace, the next step will be to contact the health department.

From October until March, the Marion County health department considers a furnace going out to be an emergency violation. They will inspect your furnace and issue a notice to your landlord to fix it as soon as possible. The important thing is to be persistent.

If you are unable to afford your heating costs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.

If you are without heat due to a power outage cause by a winter storm, AES has provided a list of steps to take:

  • Plan and prepare. Make sure you have an emergency storm kit ready, develop an emergency plan and be prepared before the storm in case the electricity goes out.
  • Before use, have your fireplace or wood stove cleaned to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Notify AES Indiana right away to report an outage. Call 317-261-8111 to report a downed power line.

Should your power go out:

  • Gather everyone in the most insulated and interior room available.
  • Turn off and unplug most electronic devices to avoid a power surge. Leave one light on to know when the power has been restored.
  • Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36-48 hours in a fully loaded freezer, while a half-full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 hours if the door is kept closed, according to AES Indiana.
  • Consider taking the time to check on neighbors, especially those with medical conditions.

To keep warm while you are without heat, FEMA also offers steps you can take to keep the heat inside your home:

  • Close blinds or curtains to help your house stay warm.
  • Close off unused rooms to avoid wasting heat and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Avoid house fires by plugging only one heat-producing appliance in an outlet at a time and keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source (like a fireplace or radiator).
  • Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep your body warm by wearing layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. This will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater.
  • Eat regularly, as food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  • Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Find a warming center near you, contact your local office of emergency to find one.

Warming Centers

According to the Indianapolis Department of Public Health and Safety, Indianapolis parks and public library centers may be used as warming centers during business hours.

Indy Park listed the following parks as warming centers:

  • Bethel Park Family Center
  • Brookside Park Family Center
  • Christian Park Family Center
  • Frederick Douglass Park Family Center
  • Garfield Park Burrello Family Center
  • Municipal Gardens Family Center
  • Rhodius Park
  • Riverside Park Family Center
  • Thatcher Park Family Center
  • Washington Park Family Center
  • Watkins Park Family Center
  • Windsor Village Park Family Center

Please view opening hours, which include upcoming holiday hours, here.

Those experiencing homelessness can visit shelters funded by the city and operated by Wheeler Mission.

Know the signs of hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) and frostbite (freezing of body parts).

Hypothermia

  • Uncontrolled shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsy movements
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

Frostbite

  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Numbness
  • Unusually firm or waxy skin

If you believe you are experiencing these symptoms take immediate action.

Actions include:

  • Going to a warm room.
  • Soaking in warm water.
  • Warming the chest first.