Millions In Path Of Powerful Winter Storm

Winter Storm
Avoid driving until road conditions improve.

Old Man Winter is dropping lots of heavy snow across the Ohio River Valley and Mid-Atlantic states and the American Red Cross is working with local and state officials, keeping disaster workers and relief supplies on stand-by should people in the path of the storm need help.

TRAVEL ADVISORIES have been issued for much of the impacted area and officials are urging people to stay off the roads if possible. 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 The heavy snow could bring trees and power lines down, causing power outages. 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
  • PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The storm has forced the cancellation of more than 40 blood drives in 11 states and the District of Columbia for a total of more than 1,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. The Red Cross encourages those who live in areas unaffected by the storm to schedule a time to give blood or platelets. To schedule an appointment to give blood, people can call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit

    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 with parental consent.

    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.