With the large winter storm approaching our area, the American Red Cross in Kosciusko County has placed volunteers on alert and is prepared to respond as needed to storm-related emergencies.
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross urges residents to be prepared — not only for the snow, but for extreme cold and possible power outages. Additionally, extreme weather increases the risk of home fires. MOST IMPORTANTLY, be a good friend and neighbor: reach out to check on others. Below are some tips to help everyone stay safe:
COLD WEATHER/WINTER STORM
Temperatures are expected to drop as conditions deteriorate throughout our region. People should take the following steps:
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service
- Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.
- If travel is necessary, make sure you have a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle which includes: shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, extra batteries, sack of sand or cat litter.
- Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
- When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks to avoid risk of injury or cardiac arrest.
- Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
- Bring pets inside during winter weather.
- Make sure coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing are available for all household members, along with extra blankets.
- Eat regular meals and stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
- Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires.
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
If the power goes out, people should:
- Use flashlights for light, not candles.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out. Your refrigerator will keep cold for about 4 hours. If the freezer is full, it will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.
- Have coolers on hand and surround your food with ice in the cooler or refrigerator to keep food cold for a longer period of time. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics to avoid damaging them when the power is restored.
- Avoid unnecessary travel as traffic lights will be out and roads congested.
- Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.
USING A GENERATOR
If someone is planning to use a generator, NEVER use it indoors, including in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other area, even with ventilation. Generators put off carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly.
For more information on emergency preparedness, people can visit www.redcross.org/prepare.