Winter Storm Safety Tips



Like every season, wintertime brings many risks. Winter storms bring in extreme cold and dangerous snow. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe from winter weather, whether being on the road or at home.



Prepare your home and family
bullet Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
bullet Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
bullet Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
bullet Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
bullet Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
bullet Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
bullet Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
bullet Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.


If shoveling
bullet Stretch out before you start. That can help you avoid strain.
bullet Shovel only what you can lift with ease.
bullet If you feel yourself running out of breath, take a significant break.
bullet In general you should take frequent breaks while shoveling.


if in cold weather
bullet Wear loose fitting, layered, light-weight clothes.
bullet Layers can be pulled off to prevent perspiration which can quickly turn cold near the body.
bullet Cover your mouth. That protects your lungs.
bullet Keep dry.
bullet Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.


If signs for hypothermia appear
bullet Seek immediate help if at all possible.
bullet Slowly warm the personís body, starting with their trunk.
bullet Warm up arms and legs last because stimulation of the limbs could send cold blood to the heart and cause heart failure.
bullet Put the person in dry clothing and wrap their whole body with a blanket if possible.
bullet Use your own body to warm them.
bullet Do not give them anything with caffeine or alcohol in it. Caffeine speeds up the heart and can intensify the effects of cold weather. Alcohol slows down the heart and therefore also speeds up some effects of cold weather.


Car Maintenance
bullet Keep your car's gas tank at least half full.
bullet Make sure you have good tires. A rough measurement for tire wear is using a penny, Lincoln's head upside in the tread. If you can see the top of Lincolnís head, the treads are worn and need replacing.
bullet Get a mechanic to do a winter check.
bullet Make sure they look at your: battery, antifreeze, wipers, windshield fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
bullet Keep an ice scraper handy and a small broom if your area is expecting snow.


What to keep in your car

bullet Flashlight and batteries.
bullet Battery Powered Radio
bullet Small tool kit.
bullet First Aid Kit with pocket knife
bullet Booster cables and tow chain or rope.
bullet Bottled water.
bullet Small shovel, scraper and small broom.
bullet Small bag of sand to use as traction under your tires.
bullet Snack Food
bullet Matches
bullet Extra hats, socks, blankets and mittens
bullet Road Salt and Sand
bullet Emergency flares and distress flag


if stuck in a blizzard

bullet Stay in the car.
bullet Only leave the car if help is visible within 100 yards.
bullet Display a brightly colored cloth or other sign of trouble outside your car.
bullet Turn on the carís engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater and turn on the inside light when the car is running to help keep warm.
bullet Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Clear the exhaust pipe of snow and if necessary open a downwind window for air.
bullet Watch for signs of hypothermia. That includes loss of feeling and pale color in the skin.
bullet To keep warm, do exercises, huddle together and use newspapers, maps and even inside car mats.


If you have to travel
bullet Do so only during the daytime.
bullet Check the news or call friends for an idea of what shape the roads are in ahead of you. Inform destination of route you will take, and of any last minute changes.
bullet If going on a long trip, check the weather for your destination and places along the way.
bullet It could save frustration and even time to wait. Plows could clear roads and sunlight may melt ice.