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Winter Weather Safety

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Winter Weather Safety

Winter weather is finally making an appearance in Ohio. While it can be beautiful with snow on the ground and icicles in the trees, it can also be dangerous. Ohio’s winters have the potential for freezing rain, ice storms, severe snow storms, flooding and power outages. Add wind to the cold temperatures and the wind chill can be deadly.

72007378_20-mother_daughter.jpgAbout 70 percent of ice- and snow-related injuries result from vehicle accidents; half of injuries related to cold happen to people more than 60 years old, and about 20 percent occur in the home, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Below are some tips from FEMA to help you prepare for a winter storm – whether you’re in your home or on the road.

On the road during winter months, try to keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. If you’re traveling alone, let someone know your primary and secondary routes.

Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid storms before going on a long trip. Some Web sites to assist you include: http://www.buckeyetraffic.org/ for statewide road closures and traffic reports, and the National Weather Service report on Ohio. Carry a survival kit in your car with the following items:

  • Cell phone, car charger and batteries
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Small can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or non-clumping cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Compass and road maps

Primary concerns at home are loss of heat, power or telephone service, and supply shortages if storm conditions continue for more than one day. Some items to have available: 

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered weather radio
  • Extra food and water
  • High-energy foods such as dried fruits, nuts and granola bars, and foods requiring no cooking or refrigeration
  • First-aid supplies
  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater
  • Use properly to prevent a fire and ventilate properly to avoid toxic fumes
  • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm
  • Test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly
  • Make sure pets have plenty of food, water and shelter. Ensure outside water bowls are not frozen
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued recommendations to help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses in the wake of strong winds, ice, snow, and blizzard conditions across the Plains and Midwest in Feb. 2011. USDA is hopeful that this information will help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems that are often associated with severe weather events. Click here to learn how you can minimize your risk for foodborne illnesses.

If you’re outside, it’s important to remember to dress for the season by wearing loose, lightweight clothes in layers. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. A hat can help you prevent the loss of half of your body heat.  

Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens should be snug at the wrist and are better than gloves. Try to stay dry to prevent chills.

Resources

Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness

More information on staying safe and the health effects of winter weather are available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote your Personal Health Safety.

Updated: 12/24/2012