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Major Winter Storm Bearing Down on U.S.

The American Red Cross has steps people should follow to stay safe and warm during the major winter storm expected to drop significant amounts of snow this weekend from the central and northern Plains across the country to the East Coast. Winter storm warnings have been posted in some areas, and according to forecasters, blizzard conditions are a possibility. A winter storm warning means severe winter conditions will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

The Red Cross recommends that people follow these safety tips during the storm:

  • Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
  • Use generators correctly—never operate a generator inside your home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Don’t forget your pets—bring them indoors. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.

If you must go outside —

  • Wear layered lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.

Travel safety Avoid traveling by car in a winter storm, but if you must...

  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
  • 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.

After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Seek medical attention immediately if:

  • You have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
  • You have symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

You can find more information on how to be prepared for winter storms on