The colder days can bring snow days, and family hot-cocoa night, but it can also bring sub-freezing temps.
When the weather dips, hazardous conditions usually present themselves in the form of iced roads, freezing pipes, or slippery surfaces.
Don’t let this winter catch you off-guard. Being prepared is our first line of defense against the pitfalls many get trapped in year after year.
Depending on where you live in the U.S. you will have different severities of extreme weather conditions. No matter where you live some level of preparation is always wise.
One of the major concerns in winter’s fury is the loss of heat, power, water, or communications. In the event of one of these vital components going awry, we need to have a contingency plan.
You generally have a 24-36 hour warning in the event of a “winter storm watch”, but in that time everybody in your neighborhood and their mom has already bought out every water bottle, shovel, and loaf of bread.
It is best to be prepared beforehand. We know winter has the potential for extreme conditions, so let’s keep that in mind.
1. Know what a winter warning means
There are typically 3 major winter warnings. Weather Underground has easy definitions for these so you can be in the know the next time the terms ride under your favorite television program:
Winter Storm Warning
This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.
Winter Storm Watch
This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.
Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.
2. Have supplies to keep safe at home
To prepare your home you may need rock salt or sand for slippery services, something to remove snow, sufficient heating materials, and blankets.
3. Have an emergency plan
Make an emergency plan that your whole family is aware of in case disaster strikes. Have a meeting place, a phone that can be accessed, and a place to get supplies.
4. Stay up to date
The radio has updates during times of winter advisories so you can stay current on local conditions.
5. Care for your pets
Keep all pets inside during the winter to ensure their well-being is maintained. If it is an outdoor animal, specialized winter covering and gear is best.
6. Stay heart-healthy
Over-exertion is a big problem in the winter months, with the cold weather restricting blood flow while you perform strenuous acts, such as snow shoveling.
Harvard Health reported:
“As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb. “Cold weather sometimes creates a perfect storm of risk factors for cardiovascular problems,” says Dr. Randall Zusman, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.”
Know your limits, and give yourself plenty of breaks when you are sledding with the kids, having a snowball fight, or shoveling your driveway.
7. Stay warm while playing
Freezing temperatures also increase the risk of frostbite. Kids may not let you know how cold or painful their fingers or toes are when they are in the middle of building a snowman.
Properly clothe yourself, and your children. If you all get wet, take a break to go inside to dry off and get a fresh pair of clothes on.
8. Drive safely
Driving in winter weather is a danger, and gets the better of hundreds of drivers every year.
Safe Winter Roads reported:
“Every year, nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet. Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.”
Drive only if it’s absolutely necessary. If you are out of food or water that is a necessity, making it to your daughter’s weekly play date is not.
9. Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning
If a power outage does occur, be careful not to use heating sources inside that could poison you and your family.
Weather Underground reported:
“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”
10. Winterize your home
Lastly, winterize your home by shutting outdoor water supplies off, clearing chimneys, and weather stripping doors and windows.
Procrastination is not in your favor when it comes to winter preparedness. Rest easy with the next winter warning, knowing that you already have your frigid ducks in a row.
(h/t Mommy Underground)