Tips For Surviving Severe Weather

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Tips For Surviving Severe Weather.

“Winter is just beginning and it’s important that everyone needs to be prepared,” said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods (Pueblo City-County Health Department), department director. “We cannot continue to rely on the conveniences we enjoy during good weather, such as the grocery and convenience stores. In taking a look to our neighbors in the Southeast portion of the state, you can see the problems that can occur in a short time by a winter storm.”

Winter storms can have devastating effects on individuals and communities that can last for days, weeks or even months. Snow, high winds and ice can cause hazardous conditions and are deceptive killers. But advance preparations can spare you the worst effects.

Emergency Preparedness

Each family should prepare a kit to meet their basis survival needs for three days to a week. Store emergency supplies in one location that is relatively safe, yet easily accessible if evacuation is required. Items may be stored in a 32-gallon trash can, suitcase, duffle bag, backpack, footlocker or individual pack. For suggestions on contents see, Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

Home Safety Reminders

Snow loads on homes and other buildings should be managed to avoid collapse of roofs. Keep the air inside your home clean by clearing your flue (air exhaust from house) of snow to avoid trapping dangerous gases in your home.

Weather Radio

A battery-powered weather radio will allow you to keep current about the weather even if power is off in your home.

Winter Driving

Stock your car with basic safety equipment such as emergency cash, scraper and brush, small shovel, jumper cables, a fluorescent distress flag, tire chains, tow chain or rope, bag of road salt, bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Carry a breakdown kit that includes road flares, blanket, gloves, boots, warm clothing (sweaters, thick socks and ear muffs), flashlight, extra batteries, pencil, paper, crossword puzzle type games, a deck of cards, foods; including crackers (I have found round and square containers, these will help to keep them fresh and from being crushed), peanut butter and instant soups, also cereal and powdered milk, rescue crews are saying to keep energy bars (like these Power Crunch Peanut Butter Fudge Bars) in your car year round, we also take podwered gatorade, water, matches or a lighter, cans of safe heat or Sterno Canned Heat (chafing dish fuel; ventilation is important with this) and a Folding Stove, small saucepan (to boil snow), and a First Aid Kit. Your first aid kit or glove box should also include a selection of over the counter meds like aspirin or tylenol and things to help with upset stomachs. If you are on prescription drugs, you should keep extra of that in your vehicle as well.

Also keep a basic tool kit in your car (this should have an assortment of tools including pliers, screw drivers, wrenches, hammer and a utility knife).

Some winter weather emails and suggestions

Check on road conditions before you set out, online at U.S. Department of Transportation or by calling 1-202-366-4000. You can also find information online for your local area. Check local news for weather and traffic reports.

If a blizzard traps you in your car:

Pull off the highway. Set your hazard lights to flashing * and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window.

* I don't agree completely with this, this is a good way to run down your battery, do this sparingly if you can.

Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful: Distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close but be too far to walk to in deep snow.

Run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear away 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 out for rescue crews.

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

At night, turn on the inside dome light so work crews can see you.

If stranded in a remote rural or wilderness area, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane. Once the blizzard passes, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot.

Some winter weather emails and suggestions

Snow Shoveling

Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so try not to overdo it.

Dress for the Weather

Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.

Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.

Wear a hat.

Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

During a Winter Storm

If you are stranded or snowbound in your home during a storm or under extremely cold conditions:

Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.

Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

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, nonalcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your thermostat lower than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid buildup of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.

Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in daylight, don’t travel alone and keep others informed of your schedule. Stay on main roads; avoid back-road shortcuts.

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 unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.

Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible 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 - lights, heat and radio - with supply.

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

If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.

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

Information from:
The Pueblo Chieftain
The American Red Cross
Pueblo City-County Health Department
U.S. Department of Transportation
FEMA
CDC
The Cooking Inn


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