Spring may be just a few days away, but that hasn’t stopped Old Man Winter from blanketing parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic with another snow storm. The American Red Cross encourages you not to let your guard down. It is important to continue to practice safe winter driving and to prepare for power outages that may result from the storm.
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.Don’t pass snow plows.Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
POWER OUTAGE SAFETY Heavy ice and snow can often lead to power outages. If the power is out, follow these safety tips:Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.Don’t use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.Don’t hook a generator up to your home’s wiring. People should connect the equipment they need to power directly to the outlets on the generator.If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Use perishable food from the fridge first, then use food from the freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed. If it looks like the power will be out for more than a day, prepare a cooler with ice for freezer items. Keep food covered in a dry, cool spot.
More information about how to stay safe during this storm is available on the Red Cross website.