As the southeast once again braces for winter storms, the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross is preparing to respond if needed. Five teams of Red Cross shelter volunteers are on standby in the Cape Fear, Coastal Carolina and Onslow County Chapter areas in the event that shelters need to be opened. Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) crews are also on standby to drive Red Cross disaster relief vehicles located in Wilmington, New Bern, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, and Elizabeth City. These vehicles can be mobilized to transport and distribute food, drinks, and supplies into disaster affected areas when travel becomes safe.
With several inches of snow and poor driving conditions predicted for many of our communities, the American Red Cross has steps everyone should follow to stay safe during this latest winter storm.
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS
The best thing to do during a winter storm is stay off the roads if possible. If you have to drive, the Red Cross offers 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 can, avoid driving in sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog. 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.
COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS
Follow these steps to stay safe as the winter onslaught continues:
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they 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 family 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 to help avoid freezing pipes.
• Download the Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.
For more disaster preparedness information and latest updates, visit redcross.org.
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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.