Winter-like weather is upon us as high winds and sustained cold temperatures bring a greater possibility of adverse conditions. When temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can be a challenge. Winter weather can knock out power and heat to your home and disrupt communications. It can make road travel more dangerous and put vulnerable populations at higher risk while lasting a few hours to multiple days.
To help prepare yourself and others during inclement weather, follow these safety tips to stay safe and warm:
For your home:
• Have a disaster supply kit containing bedding, clothing, first aid supplies, flashlights, food, personal items, tools, extra batteries, and water• Have a battery-operated radio ready to listen for emergency instructions and weather forecasts
• Know the shut-off locations and have the proper shut-off tools for your electricity, natural gas, and water, including underground sprinkler systems• Make sure your heating systems and chimneys are properly inspected and cleaned
• Insulate exposed water pipes with fiberglass or foam to protect them from freezing• Test and replace batteries in your smoke alarm regularly
For your vehicle:
• Listen to weather forecasts and plan travel accordingly• Inspect your vehicle to ensure it’s running properly including tire pressure, fluids, and brakes
• Have an emergency kit in your car equipped with blankets or a sleeping bag, flashlights, snacks, tools, and kitty litter or sand for traction. A shovel and mobile phone charger are also good items to have on board• Keep your gas tank more than half full. Should a power outage occur, you will have difficulty finding a service station that can fill your tank
• Carry the appropriate chains or traction devices required by law
For those who need extra assistance:• Check on loved ones and watch for overexertion in activities such as shoveling snow
• Check medications to ensure they are available and sufficient• Dress for warmth. Cold temperatures can affect seniors and children differently. Be aware of signs and symptoms of hypothermia and cold exposure
• Slips and falls have higher likelihood in winter conditions. Help ensure walkways are clear and apply extra measures of traction like kitty litter• If possible, bring your pets inside during cold winter weather. If the animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.