Staggering winter storm statistics show that 70 percent of winter storm deaths are automobile related. One-fourth of winter storm fatalities are the result of individuals being caught in the storm and more than 50 percent of these deaths are males.
|Not only can winter storms cause hazardous driving conditions but
they can trap you in your vehicle. Have a disaster
supplies kit and
keep it especially equipped for your vehicle at all times, you'll never know
when you'll need it. Make sure it includes blankets, jumper cables, a small
shovel, a container of sand for traction, and a set of dry clothing.
|Knowing the weather terminology:
Snow: frozen precipitation in the form of ice crystals.
Blizzard: wind of 35 miles per hour or more with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for a period of at least three hours.
Sleet: rain that freezes into ice before reaching the ground.
Freezing rain: rain that freezes on impact with a surface at a below-freezing temperature.
Ice storms: freezing rain builds up after hitting cold surfaces.
Windchill: in the winter, weather forecasters often give two outside temperatures. One is the actual temperature of the air, and the other is a measurement of how cold the air feels because of the wind.
Blinding wind-driven snow, extreme cold, icy roads, avalanches and downed trees and power lines can all accompany winter storms. Communication lines can be cut off, and access to emergency and medical services may be severely limited once extreme weather hits a region. It's important to know what to do before, during, and after a winter storm:
- Have your car winterized. This includes quality winter tires.
- Prepare a family disaster supplies kit. Families
with children should have each child create their own personal
- Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or family friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
- Prepare your home for the winter months. Install storm windows and shutters and insulate attics and walls. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows and wrap pipes with insulation. Learn how to disconnect gas, water, and electric power in case you must evacuate your home.
A winter storm watch means conditions are right for a severe storm to develop within 36 to 48 hours. Avoid going outside or traveling -- the safest place to be during a winter storm is indoors. During a winter storm watch:
A winter storm warning means a life-threatening severe winter storm has begun or will begin within 24 hours. A blizzard warning is issued when conditions are likely to produce deep drifts, life-threatening wind chills, and blinding snowfall. During a winter storm or blizzard warning:
- Listen to the radio or TV for the latest weather information.
- Review your family's disaster plan.
- Watch for changing weather conditions.
- Move any pets or other animals to a sheltered area (make sure they have water).
- Listen for news and weather updates.
- Dress in many layers.
- Implement your disaster plan regarding food, water and supplies if you are unable to go out for a prolonged period.
- To conserve fuel, lower the thermostat to 65° F during the day and 55° F at night.
- If power goes out, you may be forced to find other means of keeping warm during the storm. Use only safe emergency heat sources, such as a fireplace with a sturdy metal screen and a supply of wood; a well-vented wood, coal, or camp stove; a portable space heater. Read NFPA's heating fact sheet for more information on safe home heating.
Use common sense before going outside after a storm. Dress warmly in many layers, and always wear a hat. Protect your lungs by covering your mouth. Stretch before shoveling heavy snow and remember to take breaks to avoid overexertion. Continue to listen to the news and weather updates.
Date source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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