Winter Weather Information
SEVERE WINTER WEATHER INFORMATION:
Ice Storms--Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down tree, electrical wires, telephone poles and lines, and communication towers. Communications and power can be disrupted for days while the utility company works to repair the extensive damage.
Snow Storms--Heavy snow can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, stranding commuters, stopping the flow of supplies, and disrupting emergency and medical services. Accumulations of snow can collapse buildings and knock down trees and power lines. In the mountains, heavy snow can lead to avalanches. The cost of snow removal, damage repair, and loss of business can have large economic impacts on cities and towns.
Extreme Cold--extreme cold often accompanies winter storms or is left in its wake. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia, and may become life threatening. Infants and elderly people are the most susceptible. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. Rivers may freeze during an extended cold spell, creating ice jams that lead to flooding.
Strong Storm Winds- sometimes winter storms are accompanied by strong winds creating blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow, severe drifting, and dangerous wind chill. Strong winds with these intense storms and cold fronts can knock down trees, utility poles, and power lines. In the mountains, winds can gust to 100 mph or more, damaging roofs and other structures.
WHEN CAUGHT IN A WINTER STORM OUTSIDE:
*Try to stay dry.
*Cover all exposed parts of the body.
IF THERE IS NO SHELTER AVAILABLE:
*Prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
*Build a fire for heat and to attract attention.
*Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
*Avoid eating snow because it will lower your body temperature, instead melt it first.
IN A VEHICLE:
*Stay in your car or truck. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
*Run the motor (ten minutes per hour for heat).
*Open the window to let fresh air in and avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
*Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
*Make yourself visible to rescuers by turning on the dome light at night when running the engine, and tying a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or hood. After the snow stops falling, raise the car hood to indicate trouble.
AT HOME OR IN A BUILDING:
*Stay inside. When using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, or space heater, use fire safeguards and proper ventilation.
*Close off unneeded rooms.
*Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
*Cover the windows at night.*Wear layers of loose fitting, light weight, warm clothes. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill.
The leading cause of death during winter storms is automobile or other transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road, are keys to safe winter driving.
WINTERIZE YOUR CAR:
*Check battery and ignition system.
*Check anti-freeze level and the thermostat.
*Check wipers and windshield washer fluid.
*Check heater and defroster.
*Check oil level and grade.
*Check exhaust system.
*Install good winter tires with adequate tread.
*Carry a windshield scraper and small broom for snow and ice removal.
*Maintain at least one half tank of gas in your vehicle.
PLAN LONG TRIPS CAREFULLY:
*Check road conditions before you travel.
*Let friends or relatives know your route (whenever possible).
*Travel during daylight hours (whenever possible).
CARRY A WINTER CAR KIT: *Several blankets or sleeping bags.
*Two empty coffee cans (one for sanitation, and the other to burn a candle).
*Flashlights and extra batteries, matches, and candles.
*First-aid kit with pocket knife.
*A small sack of sand to generate traction.
*A small shovel and tire chains.
*Distress flares as well as a bright cloth to use as a flag.
WINTER TIRE AND DRIVING TIPS:
For the best traction in severe snow or icy conditions, use reinforced tire chains. Even if you drive with snow tires, keep a set of chains in the trunk. Keep the tire pressure at the recommended level. When your vehicle is stuck, a slight reduction of tire pressure may help traction by placing additional tread on the surface of the road. Remember to re-inflate as soon as possible. Opinion is divided on adding extra weight in the trunk. It does help to improve traction slightly, however it makes the vehicle more prone to spin outs. If you add weight for traction, make sure the weight is a close as possible to the driver wheels. Weight in the trunk of a front-wheel vehicle will not help improve traction.