As sustained sub-zero temperatures and wind chills hit Northeast Ohio, residents are urged to make preparations to protect their property and to keep their energy bills low.

Some common-sense cold weather tips include:

• Make sure your home is properly insulated to preserve heat. Inspect doors and windows and apply caulk or weather-stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. Close drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat and keep cold air out.

• Keep extra blankets or sleeping bags for each person inside your home. Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.

• Use a sturdy fireplace screen when utilizing a fireplace or wood burning stove.

• Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up.

• Maintain a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food. Convenience foods that do not require cooking are good to have on hand.

• Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip, or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.

• Use care when burning candles, especially around children or pets; open flames are a dangerous fire hazard.

• Charge electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers.

• Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power interruption occurs.

• Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.

In the event of severe weather, immediately report downed wires to the utility company or local police or fire department. Never go near a downed power line, even if you think it is no longer carrying electricity.

If an outage occurs as a result of the severe weather, call the electric company to report the outage.