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Winter Storms

Prepare Before a Storm Hits

During a Storm

  • Dress for the season, wearing several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Mittens are better than gloves.
  • Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Be careful when shoveling snow.  Over-exertion can bring on a heart attack – a major cause of death in the winter.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose.  If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.  If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages, if the victim is conscious.  Get medical help, as soon as possible.

After the Winter Storm

  • Roads to allow plowing operations to proceed smoothly.
  • Help dig out fire hydrants and storm drains in your neighborhood.
  • Avoid parking too close to corners, allowing Public Safety vehicles and plows to maneuver safely.
  • Be aware of children playing in the streets, particularly climbing on or running out from behind large snowdrifts. Parents should remind their children to be aware of plowing operations and traffic.
  • Clear exhaust vents from Direct Vent Gas Furnace Systems to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Never run automobile until exhaust pipe has been cleared of snow.
  • Make sure backup generators are well ventilated.
  • Take your time shoveling.  Avoid overexertion.
  • Use care around downed power lines. Assume a down wire is a live wire.

Winter Driving

The greatest danger during winter storms is the risk of accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Battery
  • Antifreeze
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Ignition system
  • Thermostat
  • Lights
  • Flashing hazard lights
  • Exhaust system
  • Heater
  • Brakes
  • Defroster
  • Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

Also:

  • Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions, however some jurisdictions require that vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Plan long trips carefully.
  • Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.
  • Dress warmly, wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.
  • Carry food and water - Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.
  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.

Keep these items in your Winter Car Kit:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • Several blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Extra newspapers for insulation
  • Matches
  • Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
  • Rain gear and extra clothes
  • Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels
  • Small shovel
  • Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
  • Booster cables
  • Set of tire chains or traction mats
  • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
  • Canned food
  • Nonelectric can opener
  • Bottled water

If trapped in a car during a blizzard:

  • Stay in the car.
  • Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost is blowing and drifting snow.
  • Display a trouble sign.
  • Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.
  • Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
  • Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.
  • Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
  • For warmth, huddle together.
  • Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.
  • Avoid overexertion, cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
  • Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

More Winter Weather Information: