A ferocious snowstorm last week left areas of Upstate New York paralyzed with nearly 7 feet of snow in three days and more than two dozen deaths. But the deadly weather emergency is far from over, as the heavy snow threatens to collapse more roofs before it melts.
Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days such as “snowvember” in Buffalo, NY. With all 50 states dealing with colder than normal temperatures already, many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet, and freezing rain.
Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared to remain safe during these events.
- Add Supplies to Your Emergency Kit
- Rock salt or similar products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
- Sufficient Heating Fuel
- Good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove in case you become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off.
- Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
It’s important to remember that carbon monoxide, space heaters, and candles used as heating sources pose dangers in the winter months.
- Make a Family Communications Plan
- Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, and what you will do in case of an emergency.
- Winterize Your Vehicle
- Check, or have a mechanic check, the following items on your car: antifreeze levels, battery and ignition system, brakes, exhaust system, fuel and air filters, heater and defroster, lights and flashing hazard lights, oil, thermostat, windshield wiper equipment, and tires.
- Winterize Your Home
- 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.
- Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- 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.
- Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- 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.
- Winter Weather Advisory
- Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the National Weather Service for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
- Download FEMA’s Be Smart. Know Your Alerts and Warnings for a summary of notifications at: ready.gov/prepare. Free smart phone apps, such as those available from FEMA and the American Red Cross, provide information about finding shelters, providing first aid, and seeking assistance for recovery.
- Minimize Travel
- If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Some other things to note: Heart attacks and deaths from shoveling snow are common. As health care providers remind people to use caution when shoveling snow, other injuries occur in the winter months, such as injuries and falls; car accidents; frostbite and hypothermia; and sledding, tubing, snowboarding, and ski accidents. Health care providers and law enforcement officials also warn the public to be aware of people who wander, such as the elderly, individuals with autism, and curious young children.
In case you were wondering, the official start of winter is December 21.
This blog post was sponsored by Style by Carden Exteriors.