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Red Cross Offers Tips for Dangerous Winter Weather Conditions

Learn more about recovering from a winter storm
With any forecast of inclement weather, it’s important to be prepared. Know what you should do, and what items to have on hand, before the weather hits.

As snow and bitter cold temperatures usher in 2014, the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region wants to remind residents to stay safe.

“With any forecast of inclement weather, it’s important to be prepared. Know what you should do, and what items to have on hand, before the weather hits,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the Red Cross. “But, it doesn’t stop there. Knowing what to do during the storm and how to recover are just as essential.”

With a forecast of extreme temperatures, high winds and heavy snow for much of the Midwest, the Red Cross is prepared to respond. The organization is working with local partners to support warming shelters and respond to emergencies as they arise.

The Red Cross recommends having the following items on hand in a convenient spot:

  • At least a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and non-perishable food;
  • A flashlight, battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries;
  • A well-stocked first aid kit;
  • A 7-day supply of medications and medical items; and
  • Supplies for babies and pets.

  • Stay inside if possible. If you must go out, wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, allow plenty of time to get to your destination and keep emergency supplies in the vehicle. These include a blanket, food, water, winter coat and accessories, flashlight, first aid kit and vehicle powered phone charger.
  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • 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.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
  • Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing - be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  • Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

  • Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Erickson reminds everyone: “Check in on your neighbors – especially those requiring special assistance and those living alone.”


    Winter weather may impact blood donation opportunities. Donors in unaffected areas are encouraged to make and keep blood and donation appointments, while those in affected areas are urged to give blood or platelets once the storm has passed and travel is deemed safe.

  • Appointments can be made online at or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
  • To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.
  • Additional information on what supplies to have and what to do before, during and after a winter storm is located at A downloadable winter storm safety checklist can be found here.

    People can learn what to do in an emergency in case advanced medical help is delayed by taking a First Aid and CPR/AED course and by downloading the free American Red Cross First Aid App.

    The Red Cross is part of the “All Ready” campaign, a unified effort among emergency preparedness experts in the bi-state region that focuses on the importance of individual preparedness. The campaign encourages the three critical steps of preparedness: Make a plan, Get a kit, Be informed.

    The American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region is a proud member agency of the United Way, which makes significant investments every year in Red Cross services.