In the last of our series of emergency preparation tips, we’d like to share information with you to help cope with the dangers of harsh winter weather. Winter storms have hit the Northeast with severity, and here in Minnesota we’re no stranger to the problems of blizzards and heavy snowfalls. Here is some information to help you weather the next bad snowstorm.
- As with other threatening weather, make sure you pay attention to storm alerts via TV, weather radio, or online weather sites.
- Have a stock of rock salt or ice melt handy. Sand is also helpful for adding traction to icy areas. It’s a good idea to have covered containers inside near each entry door. Make sure if you have pets that whatever ice melter you use is pet safe.
- The same is true with shovels. Remember, metal and metal-edged shovels may work well on concrete, but don’t use these on decks or wooden stairs because they can damage the wood – use only plastic on these surfaces.
- If you heat with something other than natural gas or electricity, such as wood, fuel oil, or propane, have a good supply laid in before the storm season starts, allowing yourself some cushion if severe cold lasts longer than usual.
- Insulate pipes on outside walls.
- If a storm hits, lower the temperature in your home to save on fuel. Put on extra layers and more blankets on your bed.
- Keep a stock of batteries, flashlights, candles, and matches on hand in case you lose power. If you use candles for light, keep them in holders such as hurricane lamps that shield the flame. Have a fire extinguisher handy.
- You may want to have a backup kerosene or propane heater if your furnace requires electricity. If you do use portable heaters, keep them away from flammable materials such as drapes and keep a window open slightly to ventilate toxic fumes.
- Know where your water shut-off is in case your pipes burst from freezing. If pipes do freeze, shut off the main supply, remove any insulation, wrap pipes in warm rags, and open all faucets to alleviate pressure.
- During a winter storm, the best thing you can do is to stay warm and dry; avoid being outside any longer than necessary. Once inside, get into dry clothing.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling or whiteness to the skin.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, or a feeling of disorientation
A winter storm emergency usually means you’ll be snowbound in your home, but conditions may require you to leave. To be prepared for that possibility, keep your exits clear and your car free of snow. A clear path from your entry door as well as a cleared driveway are important.