It’s that time of year again. It seems to have come a little earlier this year. It’s time to prepare yourself and your family for winter. Cold weather can be deadly. It is important to be prepared before you get a winter storm warning and before the temperature plummets.
Exposure to cold can lead to frostbite, hypothermia and death. It is important to be prepared for situations where you may become trapped in your home, stranded outside your home or without electricity and/or heat during a winter storm.
Do you and your family have a plan of communication should you be separated during a winter storm? Communication plans are important. Everyone should know who to call or where to meet should you become separated. Set up a plan to meet somewhere once the storm conditions calm down or have a number or email address that everyone knows so that you can check in should you become separated.
Be sure to stay abreast of the weather on a daily basis and pay attention to weather advisories. Become familiar with weather advisory vocabulary. It is important to know the difference between a winter storm advisory, which is winter weather that presents a hazard, as opposed to a winter storm warning, which means a storm is occurring or will occur within 36 hours.
Some things to consider when making winter preparations:
Be sure that you have your home stocked with water, food and blankets before a winter advisory or warning is issued. We have all done the mad dash to the supermarket when a storm warning comes and seeing the empty shelves. Prepping for a storm now will help ease some of the stress of an impending storm. Your kit should also include a shovel, rock salt (or sand or kitty litter), a battery powered radio (don’t forget the batteries), prescription medication (be sure to keep you refills up to date), items for children, first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and pet food.
Do you know how you will heat your home if your main heat source goes out? Safety should be a top priority when developing a plan to heat your home. When you are planning, make sure you have enough blankets for everyone in your home. Remember that using the oven to heat your home can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and is generally not considered to be a good practice. Space heaters are a good alternative if your main heat source is inadequate or for some reason does not work but safety precautions must be taken when using them. It is important to check the plugs and sockets to ensure that there is no damage. Never leave the heaters on in an unattended room.
As a safety precaution during the winter, it is also a good idea to dress in layers. If you are stuck outside in a storm, having on layers that are able to be taken off if they get wet and still be dressed adequately for the cold is a good idea. Wearing water repellant footwear and a water repellant hooded coat when going out will help prevent wetness on your clothing, which can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. Wearing a hat and having a scarf to cover your mouth and face are also great to keep warm when you are out in the elements. These tips may seem obvious, but you have seen many time people who are inadequately dressed because they didn’t realize it would be this cold.
Battery powered radios (including two-way radios) in your home and on your person when going out will help keep you informed should you become stranded during a storm. If there is an emergency and the power goes out, a battery powered radio will help hear weather announcements and other news events.
Don’t forget to prep your vehicle. It is important to keep winter items in your car in case you get stuck in your car during a storm. Some items for a vehicle kit include, energy bars, water, blankets, flashlights, first-aid kits, tissues, battery booster cables, maps, a compass, shovel (entrenching tool), and flattened cardboard boxes or panels to be used for wheel traction when stuck in the snow.
Remember to drive safely when you are out in a storm. Ice and snow are beautiful to look at and fun to play in with family and friends but can turn deadly in an instant. A few preparations made before the storm hits can keep you and your family safe. Enjoy the winter season and remember to watch out for the dangerous black, black ice!
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