Winter is definitely here. Significant snowfall is expected for many parts of the country; frigid, widespread cold weather is on tap for the East coast; and record cold temperatures will be delivered to Florida and other parts of the Southeast. To make sure you’re ready for all the snow and ice this season may bring, follow these tips from the Red Cross.
- First, make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit at home. You can buy pre-assembled kits or put together your own. This should include, at a minimum:
- Water — one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
- Food that is non-perishable and easy to prepare
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit, medications and medical items
- Manual can opener
- Extra blankets and warm clothing, including boots, mittens and a hat for all household members
- Non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
If a winter storm WATCH is issued in your area, it means a winter storm is possible. Pay attention to updates from local radio and TV stations, and avoid any unnecessary travel.
If a winter storm WARNING is issued, it means a winter storm is headed for your area. Stay indoors during the storm if possible. If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat.
A blizzard WARNING means strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!
Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must, make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the car. Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If you do get stuck:
- Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
- Keep one window (away from the blowing wind) slightly open to let in air.
Read more winter safety tips, including preventing and thawing frozen pipes and avoiding cold-related emergencies like hypothermia and frostbite.