Extreme winter weather is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in the U.S. each year, primarily due to traffic accidents, fires from improper use of heaters, overexertion and exposure.
Familiarize yourself with the following terms to stay alert and prepared:
- Winter Weather Advisory - cold, ice and snow are expected.
- Winter Storm Watch - severe winter weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible within the next day or two.
- Winter Storm Warning - severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin.
- Blizzard Warning - heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
- Frost/Freeze Warning - below freezing temperatures are expected.
Winter storm tips:
- Make sure your emergency supply kit is stocked and winter storm ready.
- Buy rock salt to melt ice on walkways and sand to improve traction.
- Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off.
- Keep emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove, kerosene heater, or fireplace) so you can keep at least one room of your house warm enough to be livable.
- If you have a fireplace, store a supply of firewood.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
- Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply. Insulate walls, attics, doors and windows.
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
- Do not overexert yourself or work outside for extended periods of time.
In extreme cold:
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing
- Wear mittens instead of gloves
- Wear water-repellent clothing
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
- Wear a hat
- Make sure small children, infants and the elderly stay warm. They are much more vulnerable to the cold weather.
- Take advantage of city public park facilities and heated stores and malls.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
- Where possible, try and keep one room in your home heated to 70 degrees.
- Eat high energy foods and drink warm beverages.
- Beware of over-exertion; shoveling snow or pushing disabled cars can be very demanding, and should only be done by individuals in good health.
Safe heating tips:
- Electric heaters can be hazardous and should be used with extreme caution to prevent shock, fire and burns. Follow the usage instructions carefully and keep clothing and blankets clear of any heating elements.
- Be very careful in using fireplaces, making sure flues are clear. Proper ventilation is essential and charcoal should not be used indoors at all!
- Gas ovens and burners should never be used to heat your home.
Safe use of the car in cold weather:
- Make sure your car is in good operating condition before using it in extreme cold.
- Keep water out of your gas tank by keeping the tank as full as possible.
- Maintain a storm kit in your car with such items as blankets; extra clothing; jumper cables; a flashlight; high-calorie, non-perishable food; and matches or a lighter.
- Drive with care and plan your trip. If cold, snowy or icy conditions exceed your ability or your car's ability, don't travel.