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Winter storms and extreme cold
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Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
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Coping with disaster
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Winter Storms and Extreme Colds
Areas that generally experience mild winters can be battered with a major snowstorm or extremely cold weather, immobilizing the whole area. Winter storms can result in flooding, storm surge, closed highways, blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.
Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:
Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes and creates ice as it hits any surface on the ground.
Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Winter Storm Watch: A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.
Winter Storm Warning: A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Blizzard Warning: Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow are expected to subsist for a period of three hours or longer.
Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold?

Include the following in your disaster supplies kit:

Rock salt to melt ice on walkways

Sand to improve traction

Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove, as any regular means of fuel could be cut.
Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows as well as installing storm windows.
To winterize your car, attend to the following:
Battery and ignition system should be in top condition and battery terminals clean

Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing

Ensure the heater and defroster work properly

Check and repair windshield wiper equipment; ensure proper washer fluid level

Ensure the thermostat works properly

Check lights and flashing hazard lights

Check for leaks and crimped pipes in the exhaust system; repair or replace as necessary

Check breaks for wear and fluid levels

Check oil for level and use lighter oil weights

Consider snow tires, snow tires with studs or chains

Replace fuel and air filters

Dress for the Weather:
Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight and warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing

The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent

Wear mittens

Wear a hat

Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs


What do I do During a Winter Storm?

The following are guidelines for what you should do during a winter storm or under conditions of extreme cold:

Listen to your radio or television for weather reports and emergency information

Eat regularly and drink ample fluids

Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow

Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately

Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible

Conserve fuel by keeping your residence cooler than normal

Temporarily close off heat to nonessential rooms

Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes

Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects

Drive only if it is absolutely necessary

Stay on main roads if you must go out
If a blizzard traps you in the car, keep these guidelines in mind:
Pull off the highway

Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.

Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you

Do not set out on foot

Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm

When the engine is running, open a window slightly for ventilation. This will protect from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe

Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion

In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation

Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket

Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews

Drink fluids to avoid dehydration

Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat and radio - with supply

Turn on the inside light at night so work crews can see you

Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes


What do I do After a Winter Storm?

Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster