It seems like we can’t escape the devistating cold of winter. Across the nation, we’ve seen horrible ice, sleet, and snow storms recently; even southern California has been below freezing for almost a week now. We haven’t really covered safety issues here on the blog, but I thought a few tips would come in handy . . .
Keeping Prepared During the Dangerous Winter Storm Season
At home and work…
Primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Battery-powered NOAA Weather and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
- Extra food and water. High energy food, such as dried fruit or energy bars, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
- Extra medicine and baby items.
- First-aid supplies.
- Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm.
- Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.
- Fire extinguisher and smoke detector. (Be sure to test units regularly to ensure they are working properly.)
Dressing Properly for Winter
Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air insulates. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat. Half your body heat loss can be from your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry.
When CAUGHT in a Winter Storm at home or in a building…
- Stay inside. Make sure you provide proper ventilation when using alternate heat sources such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heaters, etc.:
-use fire safeguards.
- No heat:
-close off unneeded rooms.
-stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
-cover windows at night.
- Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Non-alcoholic beverages prevent dehydration.
When CAUGHT in a Winter Storm outside…
- Find shelter:
-try to stay dry.
-cover all exposed parts of the body.
- No shelter:
-prepare a lean-to, wind-break, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
-build a fire to heat and attract attention.
-place rocks around the fire to absorb and radiate heat.
- Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
On the farm…
- Move animals to sheltered areas.
- Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
- Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
- Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in winter storms are from dehydration.
In cars and trucks…
Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm!
- Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins.
- Carry a WINTER STORM SURVIVAL KIT: blankets/sleeping bags; flashlight with extra batteries; first-aid kit; knife; high-calorie, non-perishable food; extra clothing to keep dry; a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes; a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water; sack of sand (or cat litter); shovel; windshield scraper and brush; tool kit; tow rope; booster cables; water container; compass; road maps and clothesline rope’, 25 to 50 feet long.
- Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
When CAUGHT in a Winter Storm in a car or truck…
- Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
- Run the motor Run the Motor Sparingly: About ten minutes each hour for heat:
-open windows a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
-make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
If a person must get out of a vehicle to remove snow from around the exhaust pipe or for any other reason, they should tie the clothsline around their waist and to the door handle, steering wheel (door will usually close on it), or some other strong place on the vehicle. Then if they fall down or slide down a bank or ditch, they can use the rope to find their way back to the vehicle.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers:
-turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
-tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
-raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.