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WINTER WEATHER STORMS: WHAT TO DO BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER
Winter storms and blizzards can bring cold temperatures, freezing rain, snow, ice, high winds and resulting power failures. How can you stay safe under winter storm conditions? How can you keep yourself and your family warm?
You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a winter storm WATCH and WARNING? According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a winter storm WATCH is when storm conditions are possible within the next 36-48 hours. This is the time to PREPARE. A winter storm WARNING occurs when “life-threatening” weather conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. This is the time to ACT on all that you have done to prepare.
What about a blizzard WARNING? A blizzard warning indicates that sustained winds or frequent gusts of up to 35 mph are predicted for three hours or longer, as well as falling or blowing snow that will reduce visibility to less than ¼ mile.
While it is best to prepare long in advance for our winter weather conditions, there are still some steps you can take to prepare right before a storm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking the following steps before a storm hits Be Ready! Winter Weather (cdc.gov):
- Listen to weather forecasts, and check your emergency supplies, including food and water supply.
- Bring your pets indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter and water.
- Get your car ready. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/images/winter-ready-small.png
Once the storm hits, find shelter right away. Consider staying home. Winter Weather | Ready.gov
- Limit your time outside to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Treat any signs and symptoms immediately.
- Reduce your risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion, especially if you are outdoors shoveling or walking in the snow.
- Heat your home safely. Use generators and grills outside, away from windows. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
- Conserve heat. Close off unneeded rooms and close draperies at night.
- Light your home safely. If the power is out, use battery-operated flashlights or lanterns.
- Open your water faucets slightly so that they drip to help keep your water pipes from freezing.
- Keep yourself warm by eating well-balanced meals, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
- If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors. During this time with the COVID-19 pandemic, take the needed precautions.
It is best practice top stay off the roadways during a storm. But if you find yourself caught in your vehicle during a storm, here are some reminders of what to do What To Do If You’re Caught in a Winter Storm (weather.gov):
- Slow down! If you are having trouble seeing due to the conditions, pull over to the side of the road.
- Stay in your vehicle. You can run the motor for about 10 minutes to keep warm but crack a window open. To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning make sure your exhaust pipe is clear.
- Be visible to rescuers, consider tying a colored cloth to your door (or antenna).
- Exercise: move about from time to time to keep warm.
Once it is safe to venture back outside, remember to keep yourself safe and warm Disaster Relief & Recovery Services | American Red Cross.
- Dress warmly and stay dry.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia and treat accordingly.
- Keep off the ice. Keep your steps and walkways clear.
- Avoid overexerting yourself.
- Avoid travel until it is safe to do so.
- Take steps to build a “Family Emergency/Disaster Plan” Make A Plan | Ready.gov.
- Julie Happy