Winter Weather Safety and Survival Tips

Winter Weather Safety and Survival

Winter Weather Safety Kit

The National Weather Service Chicago advises you to prepare a readiness kit to prepare for the impending and future winter storms.

Be prepared, before the storm strikes! All storm preparations should be completed by around noon on Tuesday the latest.

At home and at work, primary concerns are the potential loss of heat, power, telephone service and a shortage of supplies. With winds gusting up to 45 mph and higher on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, there will be a heightened chance of power outages.

You should have available:

  • A flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-powered NOAA weather radio and portable radio to receive emergency information. These may be your only links to the outside.
  • Extra food and water. High-energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best.
  • Extra medicine and baby items.
  • First aid supplies.
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm.
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. Learn to use properly to prevent a fire, and be sure to have proper ventilation.
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke detector. Test your units regularly to ensure they are working properly.

It is recommended to stay indoors during the storm, but if you must venture outside, wear layered clothing under a coat as well as gloves or mittens and a hat to prevent loss of body heat and protect extremities from frostbite, as wind chills temperatures are expected to fall below zero during the height of the storm, Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.

Travel is highly discouraged during the worst of this storm, as it may become impossible or nearly impossible, but if you absolutely must travel:

Carry a winter storm survival kit including the following items:

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • A large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • A can, candles and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand (or cat litter)
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Booster cables
  • Water container
  • Compass and road maps.

Keep your gas tank near full for emergency use and to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Try not to travel alone, and be sure to let someone know your travel plans - your timetable and route.

If you get stuck in your vehicle, stay with it. Do not try to walk to safety, and tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see. Start the vehicle and use the heater for about ten minutes every hour, keeping the exhaust pipe clear so fumes don't back up in the car.

On the farm:

  • Move animals to sheltered areas. Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
  • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
  • Have a water supply available. Most animal deaths in winter storms are from dehydration.
  • Dress to fit the season. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air insulates. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.
  • Wear a hat. Half your body heat loss can be from the head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry.

After the storm passes on Wednesday afternoon, avoid driving until road conditions have improved- stay tuned to local media for updates.  When shoveling snow, be extremely careful, as snow shoveling is physically strenuous work. Take frequent breaks and avoid overexertion- heart attacks from shoveling snow are a leading cause of death during the winter. Help neighbors who may require special assistance, especially families with infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

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