When the weather cools down, know how to stay safe.
When outside temperatures are very low, the risk for cold-related injuries rise. The following tips will help you and your family stay safe.
A Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area.
A Winter Storm Warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way or have already begun.
A Blizzard Warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.
- Stay safe, warm, dry and calm.
- Do not drive unnecessarily. Of deaths related to ice and snow, 70 percent occur when people are stranded in cars or involved in accidents. If you must drive, bring necessary supplies.
- Dress warmly enough to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
- Do not go outside if you don’t have to.
In a car or truck:
- In extreme cold or in heavy snow, stay with your car until you can be rescued.
- Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
- Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked, which would cause dangerous fumes to back-up inside the car.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers. Tie a bright cloth to your antenna or door to alert rescuers.
- Turn on your dome light, at night, when running the engine.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
For more tips on winter travel tips, please click here.
Snow and Ice Storms:
Heavy accumulations of snow and ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers. Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage. Even small accumulations of ice can be hazardous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces.
- 70% of winter weather-related injuries are the result of vehicle crashes. A thick blanket of snow or ice on roads makes driving difficult. If a blanket of snow covers the road, it is difficult to determine where the road ends, and a ditch or other hazard begins; driving becomes even more perilous when two cars attempt to travel down a road with no visible lanes, and inclined roads can become impassible. In the event of a collision, drivers may be stranded for many hours in harsh weather conditions waiting for assistance.
- Freezing rain and sleet can dramatically worsen the driving hazard by creating a dangerously slick, icy road surface.
- Clearing ice or snow-covered roads is also a problem; with limited equipment, priority is given to main thoroughfares, and secondary roads are primarily untouched during the initial hours after a storm has passed.
- Black ice is also a significant hazard associated with frozen precipitation on roads, and it doesn’t begin until the storm has ended! When snow and ice begin to melt, the resulting liquid can linger on the roadways until night, and if temperatures fall below freezing can refreeze, creating a thin sheet of ice that is impossible to see. It is called black ice because it blends in with the road surface and is very difficult to detect while driving.
- The melting/refreezing process can occur for many days after a storm and will only end once all moisture is melted and evaporated and roads are dry.
- Freezing rain accumulation on trees can cause large limbs, or even whole trees, to snap and possibly fall on homes, cars, or power lines. This also creates a very hazardous environment to be outside in; if a significant limb snaps while you’re driving or walking underneath it, significant injury can occur.
- When large amounts of ice accumulate on power lines and poles, widespread outages are likely to occur.
- The results of significant icing can be economically and sociologically devastating; power companies may not be able to restore power to everyone for many days, which leaves thousands of customers shivering in often brutally cold weather, resulting in potentially dangerous attempts to heat their homes.
Loss of Power (Heating Hazards):
- Residents can lose power during a winter storm when snow or ice accumulates on trees and causes them to fall onto a power line, or if enough ice accrues on a power line, it may simply collapse on its own.
- Power outages during very cold and icy conditions can result in a potentially dangerous situation. If the power is out for a prolonged period, residents are forced to find alternative means to heat their homes. The danger arises from carbon monoxide poisoning, a scentless, deadly gas released from improperly ventilated heating sources such as space or kerosene heaters, furnaces, water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces, blocked chimneys etc.. The danger can be prevented by providing proper maintenance and ventilation.
For more information in regards to power outages and how to prepare for them, please click here.
For a list for homeless shelters in the local area, please click here.