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Winter Storm Preparedness Tips from National Weather Service

posted Jan 21, 2016, 1:15 PM by Grayson Gusa   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 1:16 PM ]
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Greenville-Spartanburg, SC
Thursday, January 21, 2016

…Dealing With Major Winter Storms… 

With a major winter storm expected to affect the area starting tonight, it is a good time to review safety rules and finalize winter weather preparedness actions.

Remember that heavy accumulations of ice or snow on trees and power lines often cause electrical outages. The outages may be widespread, with many homes affected for several days and some for a week or more. When a Winter Storm Warning is issued for your location, take immediate steps to prepare for possibly prolonged power outages.

Take time now to locate flashlights, lanterns, and portable radios so that they are easily accessible when the power goes out. Check that they have fresh batteries. Be very cautious about using candles as a light source. Candles can easily tip over and start a fire. Check that smoke alarms are in good working order and that they have a battery backup in case the power goes out. A battery-powered NOAA weather radio is an especially good tool for keeping abreast of the latest winter weather developments.

If you own a generator, be sure to never operate it indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, never use a charcoal grill or a portable gas camp stove indoors. Consider investing in a carbon monoxide detector, especially one with a battery backup. Use extreme care with any alternative heat source such as a wood or gas fireplace, stove, or kerosene heater. Maintain ventilation to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes. Always refuel heaters outside and keep all heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable objects.

Store drinking water if your water supply is pumped from a well. Stock up on canned food or other food that does not need to be cooked. Make sure you have a non-electric can opener at your disposal. Ensure that you have adequate baby food, prescriptions, and any other necessary household items before the storm strikes.

During ice storms, trees and large branches can fall on your home, possibly causing damage or injuries. Avoid parts of your home that could be hit by falling trees or limbs, and do not stand under trees if you venture outside. Before the next storm, consider having professionals remove trees or branches that are too close to your home.

Have rock salt or sand available to spread on walkways and steps. Have shovels or other snow removal equipment on hand. Be aware that shoveling is extremely hard work. Do not shovel snow unless you are in good physical condition. If you must shovel, rest frequently and pace yourself. Overexertion can cause falls on slippery surfaces and heart attacks in people of all ages. Stop immediately if you experience any chest discomfort or shortness of breath.

Heavy snow and ice storms make travel highly treacherous, if not impossible. It is far better to remain at home than to venture out into a winter storm. If you must travel, there are a few steps that you can take to reduce your risks of injury or death. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Check your windshield wipers and keep your washer fluid full. Carry extra weight, such as sand bags, in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck, particularly if you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Prepare an emergency kit that can be used if you encounter winter storm conditions. Useful items include a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, preferably one with a band for NOAA Weather Radio reception, extra batteries, bottled water, snacks, a hat, gloves, and a blanket. A tow chain or rope, road salt or sand, booster cables and emergency flares may also prove useful during roadside emergencies. Be sure to carry a fully charged cell phone.

Keep others informed of your schedule and route, and stay on main roads. Realize that steep or hilly sections of roadway could become very slippery and treacherous. Slow down, turn, brake and accelerate gradually. Leave plenty of room between you and the other vehicles. Be particularly careful on ramps, bridges, and overpasses. Always allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination.

Before and after winter storms, remember to check in on family, friends and neighbors. The elderly and chronically ill are most at risk during power outages. It may be necessary to evacuate such ones to medical facilities, shelters, or other lodging where electricity and heat are available. Also, do not forget about your outdoor pets and any livestock. Make sure they have a source of water that will not freeze and a warm place to take shelter from the wind and cold.