Preparedness Safety Tips
Timely preparation, including structural and
non-structural mitigation measures to avoid the impacts of severe winter
weather, can avert heavy personal, business and government expenditures. Experts
agree that the following measures can be effective in dealing with the
challenges of severe winter weather:
BEFORE SEVERE WEATHER
drinking water, first aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener,
radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in
cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency
kit in each.
a NOAA Weather Radio to monitor severe weather.
how the public is warned (siren, radio, TV, etc.) and the warning terms for
each kind of disaster in your community; e.g.:
storm watch" --- Be alert, a storm is likely
storm warning" --- Take action, the storm is in or entering
warning" --- Snow and strong winds combined will produce
blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening
wind chill--seek refuge immediately!
weather advisory" --- Winter weather conditions are expected
to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to
warning" --- Below freezing temperatures are expected and may
cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees
flood or flood watch" --- Be alert to signs of flash flooding
and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice
flood warning" --- A flash flood is imminent--act quickly to
save yourself because you may have only seconds
warning" --- Flooding has been reported or is imminent--take
necessary precautions at once
safe routes from home, work and school to high ground.
how to contact other household members through a common out-of-state contact
in the event you and have to evacuate and become separated.
how to turn off gas, electric power and water before evacuating.
ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends,
neighbors or employees.
plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags and hand tools on hand and
your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for
your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Install storm shutters,
doors and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and 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.
you think you might want to volunteer in case of a disaster, now is the time
to let voluntary organizations or the emergency services office
DURING ANY STORM OR
your NOAA Weather Radio or keep a local radio and/or TV station on for
information and emergency instructions.
your emergency survival kit ready to go if told to evacuate.
you go outside for any reason, dress for the season and expected conditions:
For cold weather, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm
clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be
tightly woven and water-repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a
hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold
air. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots in snow or flooding conditions.
advised to evacuate, tell others where you are going, turn off utilities if
told to, then leave immediately, following routes designated by local
DURING A FLOOD
areas subject to sudden flooding.
not try to walk across running water more than 6 inches deep; even 6 inches
of rapidly running water can sweep you off your feet.
not drive into flooded areas. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately--if
you can--and seek higher ground.
DURING A WINTER STORM
fuel, if necessary, by keeping your house cooler than normal. Temporarily
shut off heat to less-used rooms.
using kerosene heaters, maintain ventilation to avoid build-up of toxic
fumes. Keep heaters at least three feet from flammable objects. Refuel
kerosene heaters outside.
travel if possible. If you must travel, do so during daylight. Don't travel
alone. Stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule.
IF A BLIZZARD trAPS YOU
IN YOUR CAR
off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from
the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely
to find you there.
fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep
warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide
poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with
other passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
extreme cold use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra
clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be
careful not to run the battery down. In remote areas, spread a large cloth
over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes.
not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you
can take shelter.
the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot.
Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use
distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction.
AFTER THE STORM
downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
blizzards, heavy snows or extreme cold, check to see that no physical damage
has occurred and that water pipes are functioning. If there are no other
problems, wait for streets and roads to be opened before you attempt to
on neighbors, especially any who might need help.
of overexertion and exhaustion. Shoveling snow in extreme cold causes many
heart attacks. Set your priorities and pace yourself after any disaster that
leaves you with a mess to clean up. The natural tendency is to do too much
RETURNING TO YOUR HOME
AFTER A FLOOD
go to the disaster scene on your own to volunteer. If you are already a
volunteer, you will know where you are to report. If additional volunteers are
needed for labor-intensive work like sandbagging, public announcements will be
not turn electricity back on if you smell gas or if the electric system has
sturdy work boots and gloves.
not handle electric equipment in wet areas.
flashlights, not lanterns, candles or matches, to check buildings containing
natural gas, propane, or gasoline.
directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.
and disinfect everything that was touched by flood waters and throw out any
you want to help other victims, give cash donations to the appropriate
relief agencies to buy what the victims need. Donated goods such as used
clothing, unlabeled and unsorted by size, are usually more of a logistical
problem than a help. If particular items are needed, there will be public
announcements and instructions concerning these.