Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter Storm Prepardness

Winter storms, snow, windchill, frost, ice and extreme cold are a coast-to-coast threat to the United States and its territories. Even Hawaii gets snow on its Big Island and frost is a major threat to crops in Southern states. Major cities as far south as Atlanta and Dallas have been paralyzed by snow and ice. Extreme cold is a relative term. It is defined very differently in Miami, FL, than in Fairbanks, AK. This page is designed to teach you how to stay safe in a winter storm or in abnormally cold weather for your area. If you know what to do before, during, and after a winter event, you can increase your chances of survival. On this site, you will find information on winter alerts, science and hazards, as well as snow coverage maps and information describing the different types of winter storms as well as how to deal with extreme cold. You'll also find a broad array of educational materials. 

The NOAA Weather Preparedness Events Calendar shows a state by state list of hazards you should be prepared for.  In addition, they provide NOAA Weather Radio, a radio channel that everyone should have access to. It will give weather warnings and advice.  

Before the storm strikes, make sure your home, office and vehicles are stocked with the supplies you might need. Make sure farm animals and pets also have the essentials they will need during a winter storm.

Your primary concerns at home or work during a winter storm are loss of heat, power and telephone service and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than a day. In either place, you should have available:

At Home and Work:
  1. Flashlight and extra batteries
  2. Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
  3. Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration. Seven to fourteen gallons of water per person is recommended by the Prepper Handbook.
  4. Extra prescription medicine
  5. Baby items such as diapers and formula
  6. First-aid supplies
  7. Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
  8. Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater, properly ventilated to prevent a fire
  9. Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly
  10. Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets
  11. Review generator safety. You should never run a generator in an enclosed space.
  12. Home fires are common each winter when trying to stay warm. Review ways to keep your home and loved ones safe.

In your Vehicle:
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 that includes the following:
  1. Mobile phone, charger, batteries
  2. Blankets/sleeping bags
  3. Flashlight with extra batteries
  4. Firstaid kit
  5. Knife
  6. High-calorie, non-perishable food
  7. Extra clothing to keep dry
  8. Large empty can to use as emergency toilet, tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  9. Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  10. Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  11. Shovel
  12. Windshield scraper and brush
  13. Tool kit
  14. Tow rope
  15. Battery booster cables
  16. Water container
  17. Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.
  18. Compass and road maps, don't depend on mobile devices with limited battery life
Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.

On the Farm, Pet Owners: 

Move animals to shelter
ed areas or bring pets inside. Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
  1. Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  2. Have water available. Most animals die from dehydration in winter storms.
  3. Make sure pets have plenty of food and water and a warm shelter.

What To Do If You're Caught in a Winter Storm

When caught in a winter storm, there are life saving actions you can take to protect yourself outside, in a vehicle and inside your home or office.

  1. Find Shelter: Try to stay dry and cover all exposed body parts.
  2. When There Is No Shelter Nearby: Build a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
  3. Melt Snow for Drinking Water: Eating unmelted snow will lower your body temperature.
  4. Exercise: From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. Avoid overexertion such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow if you are not in good health. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

 If you must drive during a storm, take the following precautions:

  1. Slow down! Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick. More than 6,000 fatalities occur on the roadways each year due to weather conditions.
  2. Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip. Flying snow from cars causes accidents.
  3. Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, this person will know where to start a search.
  4. Don't leave the house without the following a fully charged mobile phone and car charger and a emergency supplies kit in your car.
  5. If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
  6. If you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won't mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.

If your car gets stuck during a storm:

  • Stay in the vehicle!
    • If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
    • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
    • While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
  • Be visible to rescuers.
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
    • Tie a bright colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help 

Stay Inside: When using heat from a fire place, wood stove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and properly ventilate. 

If Your Heat Goes Out
  1. Close off unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat.
  2. Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  3. Close blinds or curtains to keep in some heat.
  4. Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drinks lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcholohic drinks to prevent dehydration. Cold air is very dry.
  5. Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
 For more information see:

Blog Table of Contents
US Government Recommended Preparations
Prepper Handbook 
$5 Solar Battery Charger

Food and water:

Disaster Preparations:

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