As winter storm moves across Indianapolis, DHS offers safety tips

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PRESS RELEASE – As the Division of Homeland Security (DHS) continues monitoring the winter storm that will be moving across Indianapolis and coordinating with our partners, DHS is also reminding people to be safe on the roads and prepare.

“The Department of Public Works, the Indianapolis Power and Light Company, the Red Cross – all of our partners are ramping up staffing and continuously monitoring this winter storm.  We want to ensure everyone is prepared, especially those that may be driving in these conditions,” states DHS Chief Gary Coons.  “The best thing to do is stay indoors to avoid driving in dangerous conditions.”

Winter Weather Awareness Tips

The National Weather Service uses specific winter weather terms to ensure people know what to expect in the coming days and hours.  It is important to understand the differences between the following terms: “warning”, “watch”, and “advisory”.

Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12-24 hours before the storm is expected to begin.

Winter Storm Watch: Possibility of a blizzard, snow, freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12-48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm.

Build a kit; Make a plan, Be informed, Get involved

  • Make sure that your emergency preparedness kit is complete, with fresh supplies.
  • Stock up on extra food and water.  After a winter storm you may be snowed in or without electricity for a few days.
  • Remember to consider the needs of all family members, such as babies and older adults.  Keep extra prescription medicines available in case you are snowed in.  Don’t forget your pets when preparing your kit!
  • Along with your kit, keep extra blankets and warm clothes easily accessible in case you have to find them in a power outage.
  • Check on family & friends who might need assistance when it is extremely cold or snowy.
  • Monitor the weather and stay informed on the winter storm.

Safe home heating tips

  • Do not use your stove or oven to heat rooms.
  • Use only portable heating equipment approved for indoor use.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. NEVER drape clothes over a space heater to dry.
  • Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Never leave children alone in the room with a running space heater. Turn it off if you are unable to safely monitor it.
  • Do not overload electrical circuits.
  • If you’ll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated.

Note: Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) – a colorless, odorless gas – can be produced from improperly vented furnaces, plugged or cracked chimneys, water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and tail pipes. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are flu-like and may include headache, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, vomiting, and possible death.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Open windows.
  • Move yourself and other victims to fresh air immediately.
  • Call 911.
  • Call your local utility provider.

Preparing your car for severe cold and winter weather

  •  Keep a winter survival kit in your car.  Include the following items: blankets, first aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, a knife, booster cables, compass, paper towels, collapsible shovel, high-calorie non-perishable food, a bag of sand or cat litter for traction, and a small can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking.
  • Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends. In addition, every fall: have the radiator system serviced or check the antifreeze level yourself and add antifreeze as needed; replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture; and replace any worn tires and check the air pressure in the tires.
  • Keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

 Power Outages

  •  If the power goes out, contact IPL at “Lights Out Day or Night” (317) 261-8111, or your local electrical company.
  •  Be prepared for outages before they happen by having a flashlight, a portable radio and extra batteries on hand.
  • Carefully check the circuit breakers or fuses in your home. If this step fails to restore power, check to see if your neighbors have electricity.
  • To conserve heat during a power outage, limit the number of times outside doors are opened.
  • Call IPL’s Emergency “Lights Out Day or Night” number at (317) 261-8111 to report the outage.  During a widespread power outage, please continue to call until you reach the voice response system and answer all questions.  Be sure to inform IPL if you have electrically powered medical equipment and have a back-up plan in place in the event of an extended power outage.

The Division of Homeland Security is one of the six divisions of the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Safety. Its mission is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the city’s critical infrastructure from all types of natural and human-made hazards through a comprehensive program of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. DHS works to secure a confident public and strong society and economy of Indianapolis and Marion County. For additional information visit and