As temperatures drop, it’s important to prepare for the risks cold weather can bring. Winter storms can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds. These conditions can create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite and more.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
Pay attention to watches and warnings. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued for snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle and sleet that will cause significant inconveniences but is not serious enough to issue a warning. A Winter Storm Watch is issued up to 48 hours before the possibility of a blizzard, snow, freezing rain or sleet that could be more severe and dangerous. Where you live determines the conditions needed to warrant a Winter Storm Watch. A Winter Storm Warning is issued when the potential for hazardous winter weather like heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet is expected soon or may already be happening. Remember, your local National Weather Service office forecasters monitor the weather around the clock in your area and will issue Warnings, Watches or Advisories based on local criteria. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. You can also download the FEMA App to receive alerts for up to five different areas.
Stock up before the storm. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Also make sure you have flashlights and extra batteries. Only use generators outside and be sure to set them at least 20 feet away from your home’s doors and windows.
Limit your time outside. Stay off the roads if possible. Keep your car’s gas tank full and keep an emergency kit that includes a blanket in your car. If you need to go out, wear layers of warm clothing.
Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes. If it occurs, go to a warm room as soon as possible. You can soak the affected part in warm water. Do not massage or use a heating pad. Hypothermia, an unusually low body temperature below 95 degrees, is a medical emergency. Warning signs include shivering, exhaustion, slurred speech, confusion and drowsiness. Get the person to a warm room, remove any wet clothing they’re wearing and warm the center of the body including the chest, neck, head and groin using warm, dry blankets, clothing, towels or sheets. If you have an electric blanket available, use it to warm the person. Get the person medical attention as soon as possible.
Check on neighbors. Consider exchanging contact information including phone, email, and social media, with neighbors to stay in touch during emergencies. Reach out to those who are older or who have a disability, as they may be more vulnerable to winter hazards.
Get help with heating bills if needed. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. To find out if you are eligible to receive LIHEAP benefits, contact your state LIHEAP office. You can also call: 1-866-674-6327.
Visit the #WinterReady page on Ready.gov to understand winter risks you face and steps you should take now to prepare. Because the risks from winter weather affect people differently, the page includes low-cost tips for keeping your home warm, as well as tips for older adults, those who work or play outside and those who live somewhere that doesn’t usually see extreme winter weather.
Courtesy of FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness
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