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Winter Storms

Winter Storms

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Published by gimanben

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Published by: gimanben on Aug 29, 2009
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02/07/2013

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FACT SHEET
A major winter storm can be lethal. Preparing for cold weather conditions and responding to themeffectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.
Be familiar with winter stormwarning messages.
(
See
Winter Storm Watches and Warnings)
Service snow removal equipmentand have rock salt on hand tomelt ice on walkways and kittylitter to generate temporarytraction.Make sure you have sufficientheating fuel; regular fuel sourcesmay be cut off.Winterize your home.
Insulate walls and attic.
Caulk and weather-strip doorsand windows.
Install storm windows or coverwindows with plastic from theinside.
Have
safe 
emergency heatingequipment available.
Fireplace with ample supplyof woodSmall, well-vented wood, coal, orcamp stove with fuelPortable space heaters or keroseneheaters (See
Kerosene Heaters
)
Install and check smoke detectors.Contact your local emergencymanagement office or AmericanRed Cross chapter for moreinformation on winter storms.Keep pipes from freezing.
Wrap pipes in insulation or layersof old newspapers.
Cover the newspapers withplastic to keep out moisture.
Let faucets drip a little to avoidfreezing.
Know how to shut off watervalves.
Have disaster supplies on hand, incase the power goes out.
Flashlight and extra batteriesPortable, battery-operated radioand extra batteriesFirst aid kitOne-week supply of food (includeitems that do not require refrigera-tion or cooking in case the poweris shut off)Nonelectric can openerOne-week supply of essentialprescription medicationsExtra blankets and sleeping bagsFire extinguisher (A-B-C type)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Kerosene Heaters
Check with your local fire department onthe legality of using kerosene heaters inyour community. Use only the correct fuelfor your unit and follow the manufacturer’sinstructions. Refuel outdoors only, andonly when cool. Keep your keroseneheater at least 3 feet away from furnitureand other flammable objects.
Develop an emergencycommunication plan.
In case family members areseparated from one another duringa winter storm (a real possibilityduring the day when adults are atwork and children are at school),have a plan for getting back together.Ask an out-of-state relative orfriend to serve as the “familycontact.” After a disaster, it’s ofteneasier to call long distance. Makesure everyone in the family knowsthe name, address, and phonenumber of the contact person.
Make sure that all family mem-bers know how to respond aftera severe winter storm.
Teach children how and when tocall 9-1-1, police, or fire depart-ment, and which radio station totune to for emergency information.
WINTER STORMS
 
Frostbite and Hypothermia
IF INDOORSStay indoors and dress warmly.Conserve fuel.
Lower the thermostat to 65 degreesduring the day and 55 degrees atnight. Close off unused rooms.
If the pipes freeze, remove anyinsulation or layers of newspa-pers and wrap pipes in rags.
Completely open all faucets andpour hot water over the pipes,starting where they were mostexposed to the cold (or where thecold was most likely to penetrate).
Listen to the radio or television toget the latest storm information.IF OUTDOORSDress warmly.
Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can beremoved to prevent perspirationand chill. Outer garments shouldbe tightly woven and water repel-lent. Mittens are warmer thangloves because fingers generatewarmth when they touch each other.
Stretch before you go out.
If you go out to shovel snow, do afew stretching exercises to warm upyour body. Also, take frequentbreaks.
Cover your mouth.
Protect your lungs from extremelycold air by covering your mouthwhen outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strainon the heart. Unaccustomedexercise such as shoveling snow orpushing a car can bring on a heartattack or make other medicalconditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
Watch for signs of frostbite andhypothermia.Keep dry.
Change wet clothing frequently toprevent a loss of body heat. Wetclothing loses all of its insulatingvalue and transmits heat rapidly.
Remember to help your neighborswho may require special assis-tance — infants, elderly people,and people with disabilities.
EMERGENCY PUBLICINFORMATION
Frostbite is a severe reaction to coldexposure that can permanently damage itsvictims. A loss of feeling and a white orpale appearance in fingers, toes, or noseand ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.Hypothermia is a condition brought onwhen the body temperature drops to lessthan 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptomsof hypothermia include uncontrollableshivering, slow speech, memory lapses,frequent stumbling, drowsiness, andexhaustion.If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected,begin warming the person slowly and seekimmediate medical assistance. Warm theperson’s trunk first. Use your own bodyheat to help. Arms and legs should bewarmed last because stimulation of thelimbs can drive cold blood toward theheart and lead to heart failure. Put personin dry clothing and wrap their entire bodyin a blanket.Never give a frostbite or hypothermiavictim something with caffeine in it (likecoffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, astimulant, can cause the heart to beatfaster and hasten the effects the cold hason the body. Alcohol, a depressant, canslow the heart and also hasten the illeffects of cold body temperatures.A
winter storm watch 
indicates thatsevere winter weather may affect yourarea. A
winter storm warning 
indicatesthat severe winter weather conditions aredefinitely on the way.A
blizzard warning 
means that largeamounts of falling or blowing snow andsustained winds of at least 35 miles perhour are expected for several hours.
Winter Storm Watchesand Warnings
Mitigation
Mitigation includes any activities thatprevent an emergency, reduce the chanceof an emergency happening, or lessen thedamaging effects of unavoidableemergencies. Investing in preventivemitigation steps now such as purchasing aflood insurance policy and installing stormwindows will help reduce the impact ofwinter storms in the future. For moreinformation on mitigation, contact yourlocal emergency management office.“Wind chill” is a calculation of how coldit feels outside when the effects oftemperature and wind speed arecombined. A strong wind combined with atemperature of just below freezing canhave the same effect as a still airtemperature about 35 degrees colder.
Wind Chill
September 199
 
BACKGROUNDER
WINTER STORMS
1.
A major winter storm can last for several days and be accompa-nied by high winds, freezing rain or sleet, heavy snowfall, andextremely cold temperatures. People can become stranded on theroad or trapped at home, without utilities or other services.
The best  protection against severe winter weather is to stay inside and todress warmly by wearing loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.
2.
A serious danger during a winter storm is
hypothermia
—acondition brought on when the body temperature drops because of prolonged exposure to extreme cold. Hypothermia is not alwaysfatal, but for those who survive there are likely to be lasting kidney,liver, and pancreatic problems.
3.
Heavy snowfall and blizzards can trap motorists in their cars.Attempting to walk for help in a blizzard can be a deadly decision.Disorientation and confusion come very quickly in blowing snow.People trapped in a car during a blizzard do best to stay in the carand wait for help.
Almost the entire United States except Hawaii and the territories are at some risk from winterstorms. The level of risk depends on the severity of local winter weather. Winter stormsknown as northeasterscause extensive coastal flooding, erosion, and property loss in thenortheastern and middle Atlantic states.
WHAT IS A WINTER STORM?
 A winter storm can range frommoderate snow over a few hours toblizzard conditions with blindingwind-driven snow that last severaldays. Some winter storms may belarge enough to affect several stateswhile others may affect only a singlecommunity. All winter storms areaccompanied by low temperaturesand blowing snow, which canseverely reduce visibility. A severewinter storm is one that drops 4 or more inches of snow during a 12-hour period, or 6 or more inchesduring a 24-hour span. An ice stormoccurs when freezing rain falls fromclouds and freezes immediately onimpact. All winter storms makedriving and walking extremelyhazardous. The aftermath of a winter storm can impact a community or region for days, weeks, and evenmonths. Storm effects such asextreme cold, flooding, and snowaccumulation can cause hazardousconditions and hidden problems for  people in the affected area.
EMERGENCY INFORMATIO

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