Major Storm Heading East After Burying Midwest

Severe Weather
Use flashlights, not candles, for lighting if the power goes out.

A strong winter storm system is pounding the Midwest and moving east where it is expected to drop over a foot of snow in some areas across the Mid-Atlantic states. The American Red Cross urges everyone in the path of the storm to get prepared now and follow steps to stay safe during the storm.

AS THE STORM NEARS, people who may be in the path of the storm should prepare now. These are steps they can take to get ready:

  • Download the free Red Cross First Aid App before you head out so you’ll have information on what to do during an emergency until help arrives. Information is also available on winter storm safety.
  • Pack a kit with a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for each person in your household. Find out what other items you should include by visiting the Red Cross winter storm safety information.
  • Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the car, and keep your car's gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Make sure you have a flashlight and extra batteries on hand as well as a battery-powered or hand-crank radio to stay informed about the storm.
  • Check to make sure you have sand, rock salt or kitty litter on hand to keep walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Get the warm coats, gloves, mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets ready, as well as warm clothing for everyone in your household.
  • TRAVEL DURING THE STORM Experts predict the snow will be wet and heavy, which could bring trees down and make driving difficult. People should avoid driving during the storm until road conditions improve. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Your kit should include a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, cleaner for your windshield, reflective triangles and bright cloth, an ice scraper and snow brush and non-perishable food. Other steps include:

  • Plan to arrive at your destination before the storm hits. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way.
  • Keep your car's gas tank full 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 in the snow:
  • Stay with the 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 to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • SAFETY AT HOME If the power goes out, use flashlights to provide light. Do not use candles for lighting. Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water. Other tips include:

  • Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended. If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
  • Use a sturdy fire screen around fireplaces when in use. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.
  • 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.
  • Check smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button and replacing batteries as necessary.
  • Don’t overload your electrical outlets.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children
  • More information on what steps you can take to stay safe during storms and other emergencies is available on this website.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.