Millions of people from the Mid-Atlantic states to New England face blizzard conditions, more than a foot of snow and possible power outages with the severe winter storm set to start tonight. The American Red Cross urges everyone to take this storm seriously and make preparations now.
The Red Cross has steps people can take to remain safe during the storm:
WINTER SAFETY TIPS
Parts of the country will see more than a foot of snow and strong winds. People in those areas should keep these tips in mind:
- Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
- Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures. Consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
- Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
- 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.
- Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
The best way to remain safe is to stay off the road during severe weather, if possible. If you have to drive in snow, follow these tips:
- 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 freeze before roadways.
People should download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to locations of open shelters and information on what to do in emergencies and disasters like winter storms. The app also contains weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
- FOOD SAFETY - Have one or more coolers on hand and ice. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours. First use food from the refrigerator, then from the freezer.
- ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT - Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including electronics. Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
- SAFE HEATING - Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- CARBON MONOXIDE Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you. Read more about using generators safely.
PREVENT HOME FIRES
Winter storms and cold temperatures often bring a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:
- Keep all potential sources of fuel at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces - paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs
- Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.