Winter Weather Preparedness Tips:
Have A Plan:
- Discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.
- Ensure your family knows meeting places and phone numbers of other family members in case they are separated when a winter storm hits.
- Know what to do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones are cut off for an extended period of time.
- Understand the hazards of wind chill. Cold temperatures are even more dangerous, and potentially deadly, when combined with strong winds. The lower the temperature and stronger the wind, the more at risk you are.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly. Make sure they are prepared.
- Plan to bring pets inside during winter weather. Move livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
- Install and check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
- Let faucets drip to avoid freezing and know how to shut off water valves if necessary.
- Have an alternate heating method such as fireplace or wood or coal burning stove. Always be cautious using a portable space heater.
- Have your car winterized before winter storm season. Keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. If necessary insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of old newspapers. Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
Make A Kit:
- Windshield scraper, de-icer, snow shovel and small broom for ice and snow removal.
- A cell phone with charger and a battery powered radio.
- Several blankets or sleeping bags.
- Mittens, they are warmer than gloves.
- Rain gear, warm coats and extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks and a cap.
- Non-perishable snacks like dried fruit, nuts and other high energy “munchies.”
- Bottled water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature. If necessary, melt it first.
- Sand or cat litter for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats.
- Jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit and brightly colored cloth to tie to antenna if you get stranded.
- Know what National Weather Service winter storm and blizzard watches and warnings mean.
- A winter storm watch is a message indicating awinter storm is possible in your area.
- A winter storm warning indicates a winter storm is occurring winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area and could threaten life and property.
- A winter weather advisory means winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
- A frost/freeze warning means below freezing temperatures are expected.
- Ice storms usually bring heavy accumulations of ice that can bring down trees, electrical wires, telephone poles and lines, and communication towers. Communications and power can be disrupted for days while the utility company works to repair the extensive damage.
- A blizzard warning means sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater and considerable falling or blowing snow is expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
- Depend on your NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio, along with local radio and television stations, for weather reports.
Be Cautious with Alternative Heat Sources:
- Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. They produce carbon monoxide.
- Never heat a home with an oven if the electricity goes out
- Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented.
- Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.
- Use extra caution when using space heaters. Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
- Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
- Do keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency.
- Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves or similar devices indoors.
More Winter Weather Tips:
Extreme Cold Exposure:
Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or in extreme cases, death. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold. Frostbite occurs when the skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia (low body temperature) can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95 F. A person will become disoriented, confused, and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible. The following tips can help decrease the risk of cold exposure:
- Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
- While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 F. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
- Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks and layered clothing.
- Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
- Carry extra clothing, blankets and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars in your car for protection if car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing.
- Check daily on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone.
- The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.
If You Must Go Out During a Winter Storm:
The best way to stay safe in a snowstorm is not to be out in it. Long periods of exposure to severe cold can result in frostbite or hypothermia. It is easy to become disoriented in blowing snow.
-Stretch before you do so. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.
-Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow.
-Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injury.
-Dress in many layers and wear a hat and mittens or gloves.
-Come inside often for warm-up breaks.
-If you start to shiver or get very tired, or if your nose, fingers, toes, or ear lobes start to feel numb or turn very pale, come inside right away and seek medical assistance. -These are the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and need immediate attention.
-Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
-If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle and hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood (after snow stops falling)
If you must drive in a storm:
Remember, the leading cause of death during winter storms is vehicle crashes. If at all possible, stay home during winter storms. If you know you will need to travel, prepare your vehicle and know how to react if you are stranded on the road.
-Check your local weather, as well as the weather along your route and at your destination. Check local media for event closings and cancellations. Remember, conditions can deteriorate quickly in a winter storm.
-Check for weather-related road conditions through the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety at www.dps.state.ok.us or by calling toll free, (888) 425-2385 or (405) 425-2385
-Make sure you have plenty of fuel; a good rule of thumb is to keep your fuel tank at least half full
-Always wear your seat belt
-In ice or snow, take it slow; allow ample time to reach your destination
-Bring a cell phone with an emergency roadside assistance number (In case of emergency, you can call the Oklahoma Highway Patrol at *55 or 911)
-Remember that bridges and ramps will be the first to freeze
Make sure your Winter Storm Disaster Supply Kit includes:
-A cell phone with extra battery or two-way radio
-Windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal
-Several blankets or sleeping bags
-Rain gear and extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks and a cap
-Non-perishable snacks like canned fruit, nuts and other high energy “munchies.” ----Include non-electric can opener if necessary.
-Several bottles of water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature. If necessary, melt it first.
-A small sack of sand or kitty litter for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats.
-A first aid kit
-A flashlight with extra batteries
-A brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna if you get stranded.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
When temperatures fall and power goes out, the possibility of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning rises as people try to stay warm. Invisible, odorless and tasteless, CO is a highly poisonous gas produced by the burning of fuel such as gasoline, natural gas, kerosene, charcoal or wood. Unvented or faulty gas and kerosene appliances have the greatest potential to produce dangerous levels of CO in a home. Smoldering or poorly vented fireplaces, slow-burning fuels such as charcoal and vehicle exhausts also are potential indoor hazards. Take these precautions:
- Look at the color of the flame. A hot blue flame produces less CO and more heat than a flickering yellow flame. If you see yellow flames in your furnace or stove burner, it should be adjusted so that the flame is blue.
- Don’t use an unvented gas or kerosene heater in closed spaces, especially sleeping areas.
- Don’t use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat your home.
- Don’t burn charcoal inside a house, garage, vehicle or tent for heating or cooking, even in a fireplace.
- Look for CO exposure symptoms including headache, dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting that can progress to disorientation, coma, convulsions and death.
- If you suspect CO poisoning, open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances, and go outside for fresh air. Call 9-1-1 emergency medical services in severe cases.
- To prevent residential fires, make sure that heaters, stoves, and fireplaces are at least three feet from anything that burns. Use screens in front of fireplaces, and do not leave children alone with space heaters. Never leave candles burning when you are not at home or while you are sleeping. If a heater uses fuel like propane or kerosene, use only that kind of fuel and add more fuel only when the heater is cool. Store all fuels outside in closed metal containers.
Protect Your Property:
-Install and check/replace batteries in smoke alarms.
-Make sure your home is properly insulated. If necessary insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills.
-Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
-To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of old newspapers. -Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
-Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
-Know how to shut off water valves.
-Consider storing extra heating fuel.
-Keep safe emergency-heating equipment, such as a fireplace with wood. Always be cautious in using a portable space heater and never leave the heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to bed.
-If you have a generator, take the time now to complete any required maintenance. -Before using the generator, make sure you follow instructions from a licensed electrician to include proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.