Winter Storm Survival Guide – Be Prepared When Storms Strike

Freeport, Illinois — Beginning this Saturday December 10, 2016 following through Sunday evening the Freeport region could see up to a foot (12 inches) of snowfall.

Saturday residents can expect cloudy and very cold temperatures and a little snow in the afternoon, accumulating a coating to an inch.

Another inch is possible into the evening.

Come Sunday residents are looking at a possible 3-6 inches during the day and another 6-10 inches at night bringing the total storm snowfall to around a foot.

That can wreak havoc for many area residents who aren’t prepared.

In preparation for the winter months and the upcoming snow storm, we’ve prepared a little guide to help you familiarize yourself with a few winter terms and offer some preparedness tips to help you stay alert and stay safe.

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.

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 in order to remain safe during these events.

Know what hear:
  • Wind Chill Advisory – dangerous wind chills of 15 below to 24 below zero are expected.
  • Wind Chill Warning – potentially life threatening wind chills of 25 below zero or colder are expected.
  • Frost Advisory – damaging frost is expected during the growing season.
  • Freeze Warning – below freezing temperatures are expected during the growing season.
  • Ice Storm Warning – dangerous accumulations of ice will occur and are expected to result in hazardous travel, extended power outages, and damage to trees.
  • Heavy Snow Warning – snow accumulations of six inches or greater, which will result in hazardous travel conditions.
  • Winter Weather Advisory – cold, ice, and/or snow (two to five inches) are expected.
  • Winter Storm Watch – severe winter weather, such as heavy snow or ice, is possible within the next day or two.
  • Winter Storm Warning – severe ice and/or snow (six inches or more) have begun or are about to begin.
  • Blizzard Warning – heavy snow and strong winds will produce a blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening travel conditions.
Prepare:
  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
  • Ample alternate heating methods such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves
Winter storm tips for home
  • Make sure your Emergency Kit is stocked and winter storm ready.
  • Use sand to improve traction and apply products that melt ice on walkways.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • Keep emergency heating equipment and fuel so you can keep at least one room of your house warm enough to be livable.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply. Insulate walls, attics, doors, and windows.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
  • Do not overexert yourself or work outside for extended periods of time.
Winter storm tips for traveling
  • Make sure your car is in good operating condition before using it in extreme cold.
  • Keep condensation (water) out of your gas tank by keeping the tank as full as possible.
  • Maintain a storm kit in your car with such items as a cell phone and charger; blankets; extra clothing; jumper cables; a flashlight; extra batteries; high-calorie, non-perishable food; and matches or a lighter.
  • Plan your trip carefully. If cold, snowy, or icy conditions exceed your ability or your car’s ability, don’t travel. If you must travel be cautious.
  • Tell someone about your travel plans.
  • Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
Remaining Safe During a Winter Storm
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Being prepared may not prevent a disaster but it will give you confidence to meet the challenge.

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