Before Winter Arrives
Plan ahead for winter storms:
• Add the following supplies to your emergency preparedness kit:
o Rock salt or some of the more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways.
o Sand to improve traction under wheels or on walkways.
o Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
o Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
o Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
• Review your Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
• A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.
• Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle.
• Bring pets and companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Carbon Monoxide Awareness:
Caution: Each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and there are more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room with more than 4,000 hospitalizations. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months. These deaths are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, cooking, and power sources used inappropriately indoors during power outages.
• 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. Keep these devices at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
• 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.
Winterize Your Home:
• Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
• Insulate pipes with insulation and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. 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 fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
• Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
Winterize Your Vehicle:
(Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car)
• Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
• Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
• Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
• Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
• Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
• Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
• Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
• Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
• Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
• Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
Update vehicle emergency kits:
• A shovel
• Windshield scraper and small broom
• Battery powered radio
• Extra batteries
• Snack food
• Extra hats, socks and mittens
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Tow chain or rope
• Road salt and sand
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares
• Fluorescent distress flag