Winter is beautiful, but it can also be scary when it brings severe weather. Threats of strong winds, sleet, extreme temperatures, and freezing rain loom large in many parts of the country during the winter months. Though some storms are mild, others can quickly escalate into blizzards.
Winter weather has the ability to knock out power, heat, and communication services for days on end. Heavy snowfall, accompanied by extremely low temperatures, can leave entire regions immobilized. Winter storms have been called the “Deceptive Killers” by the National Weather Service. Many people don’t think of them as deadly, but they often lead to high numbers of fatalities. One major way to stay safe from the storms is to prepare thoroughly in advance.
The National Weather Service has different types of warnings in place for the winter months. Here’s a quick rundown of common NWS classifications:
- Winter Storm Outlook – This means that winter storm conditions will be possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
- Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions can be expected to cause inconveniences and hazards.
- Winter Storm Watch – Winter storms could be possible within the next 36 to 48 hours.
- Winter Storm Warning – Life-threatening winter conditions have started or will start within 24 hours.
- Blizzard Warning – Winter storm winds with sustained speeds of 35 mph or higher will prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
Preparing for Winter Storms
People and property can be safeguarded in the event of winter emergencies with the help of the following measures:
- Winterize vehicles and keep gas tanks full.
- Insulate homes by covering windows from the inside out.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
- Set temperatures to 55°F or higher when leaving the house in cold weather.
Emergency Supply Kits
Power could go out during winter storms and the roads may not be passable for any kind of traffic. Preparing an emergency supply kit will ensure the family’s survival for the days that matter most. The following items are important to include in an emergency supply kit:
- At least a 3-day supply of water, one gallon per person per day
- At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food
- Hand-cranked or battery-powered radio
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- 7-day supply of medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Personal hygiene and sanitation items
- Copies of important personal documents
- Cell phone with chargers
- Warm coats, boots, blankets, and warm clothing for all members of the family
Being prepared for the effects of the winter storm is the best insurance you can have for you and your family.