Winter Storm Preparedness
Cold weather puts a strain on our bodies, our animals and our resources. Unlike many natural disasters, forecasts will often give some advanced warning to the possibility of winter storms. Taking precautions will help to keep you warm and safe.
Remember to dress warmly and remain dry:
- Wearing layers will trap warm air and allow for cooling, if you get overheated
- A water-resistant coat and shoes will help keep moisture out
- Mittens are warmer than gloves
- A hat will help keep heat from escaping through your scalp
- A scarf and knit mask will cover face and mouth
- Avoid over-exertion that would cause perspiration and undue stress on the heart.
Around the House
Winter storms can cause a great deal of trouble even when you’re safely nestled into your home. An ice storm or heavy snow can take down power lines and knock out electrical service. As always, your first priority is to have your emergency kit stocked with supplies that can sustain you and your household for several days. Having extra blankets and additional heating sources (generators, space heaters and fireplaces) will provide extra warmth, if properly serviced and maintained. Experts recommend checking these items in late summer or early fall to ensure their working order.
Additional items for your home supply kit:
- Extra clothing (especially long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sweaters or sweatshirts and socks)
- Extra blankets
- Extra food and water (for family members and pets)
- Rock salt or environmentally safe ice-melt
- A snow shovel or other removal equipment
- Sufficient fuel for your heating unit
Your automobile can be your best friend or worst enemy during winter storms. Have your car winterized by checking the ignition system, heater, brakes, wipers, cooling system, defroster, oil, exhaust, fuel system, battery, lights and tires before the season. Keep your gas tank filled to minimize moisture and help avoid frozen fuel lines. If driving in hazardous conditions, consult your owner’s manual for optimal driving tips.
Winter driving suggestions:
- Clean snow and ice off all windows and lights before driving. Be certain windshield wipers and defroster are fully functional.
- When driving over snow or ice, continue slowly and smoothly. Test your brakes in a safe area to get a feel for the road.
- Leave a safe distance between your car and others.
- Apply brakes gently, so as to avoid slamming and skidding.
If you do become stranded during a winter storm, stay with your car and alert others as possible (use a cell phone to call for help or tie a colored cloth to the highest point so others may see you). Stay awake as long as possible and keep arms/legs moving to improve circulation. Start the car and use the heater for approximately ten minutes every hour (be sure to keep the exhaust pipe clear).
During winter, you should keep your car equipped with:
- Blankets and a warm change of clothing
- A first aid kit
- A can and waterproof matches, plus candles
- Windshield scraper
- Jumper cables
- A bag of sand or cat litter to improve traction
- Extra non-perishable food and water (and a manual can opener, if necessary)
- A tool kit
- A flashlight and batteries
Waiting for school and playing outside, children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather since they don’t always use common sense. Check to ensure that children are fully protected from cold winds through proper fitting gear. Schools should develop a plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold, as well as establish guidelines regarding outdoor recess. Sledding and ice skating are fun winter activities, but parents and guardians must check to guarantee the area is safe from dangers.
Move animals (pets and livestock) to sheltered areas — preferably inside a warm structure. Provide extra food and running water to animals, as they may become dehydrated and burn extra calories when cold. If your animal must remain outside during freezing temperatures, periodically check water bowls for ice formation. Add warmth to bedding areas with extra blankets, hay and other materials.