Northwest students cross the campus during a snowfall. The University encourages its students and employees to make preparations as the winter weather season approaches. (Northwest Missouri State University photo)
Nov. 13, 2015
Northwest encourages winter weather awareness, preparedness
Winter Weather Safety Rules
Around the home
- Keep ahead of advancing winter weather by listening to NOAA weather radio.
- An ice storm will take down power lines knocking out electricity. Check battery-powered equipment before the storm arrives.
- Check your food and stock an extra supply. Include food that requires no cooking in case of a power failure. If there are infants or people who need special medication at home, have a supply of the proper food and medicine. Make sure pets and animals have shelter and a water supply.
- Be careful when using a fireplace, stoves or space heaters. Proper ventilation is essential to avoid a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. Don't use charcoal inside as it gives off large amounts of carbon monoxide. Keep flammable material away from space heaters and do not overload electric circuits.
- Don't kill yourself shoveling snow. It is extremely hard work for anyone in less than prime physical condition. It can bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death during and after winter storms.
Winter car safety
- Your automobile can be your best friend or worst enemy during winter storms. Get your car winterized before winter arrives. The following items should be checked: ignition system, cooling system, fuel system, battery, lights, tires, heater, brakes, wipers, defroster, oil and exhaust. Keep water out of your fuel tank by keeping it full.
- If you travel often during winter, carry a winter storm kit in your car. It should include a flashlight, windshield scraper, paper towels, extra clothes, matches and candles, booster cables, maps, sand, chains, blankets and high calorie non-perishable food.
- Winter travel by car is serious business. If the storm exceeds or tests your driving ability, seek available shelter immediately.
- Plan your travel. Try not to travel alone and drive in a convoy when possible.
- Drive carefully and defensively. Pump your breaks when trying to stop on snow or ice covered roads.
Northwest Missouri State University – along with the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and local emergency managers – are joining forces to promote winter awareness in Missouri.
Winter Weather Awareness Day in Missouri is Wednesday, Nov. 18, and the National Weather Service urges people to use the day to review hazards and winter safety rules to prepare for the upcoming season.
Additionally, Northwest’s University Police Department will host its second annual CoCo with PoPo, an event for University students and employees to learn about winter weather preparedness, from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the police department’s offices in the Support Services Building.
Northwest and emergency management organizations across Missouri remind residents that extreme cold temperatures are a danger during winter months. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia or, in extreme cases, death. In fact, excessive cold is one of the leading weather-related causes of death across the country. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold. Freezing temperatures also cause damage to crops and property.
When dealing with winter weather, emergency management experts offer these tips:
- Dress for the conditions: Wear several layers of light-weight, warm clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiring and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, waterproof and hooded. For the hands, mittens, snug at the wrists, offer better protection than fingered gloves.
- Make a plan: Have an emergency plan in place, and do as much as possible before an emergency happens. Whether at home or traveling, determine how you will communicate with others and develop an emergency communications plan that includes communication methods and individuals to call.
- Update your address book: Add emergency contacts, current work and school numbers and information for emergency services. Designate an out-of-state or out-of-area contact in the event family members cannot immediately communicate locally.
- Build a kit: Make a preparedness kit or review your existing kit with winter weather in mind. Kits might contain bottled water, high calorie non-perishable food items, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries and a first aid kit. Make a winter car kit to keep in the trunk of a vehicle as well. This kit might include a sleeping bag or blanket, high calorie food items, a first aid kit, a rain coat, gloves, a spare radio with batteries, jumper cables, flares and a shovel and sand to give tires traction.
It is also important to keep updated on weather forecasts and understand the difference between a watch and a warning. Evaluate current conditions and expected conditions, and take those into consideration when making travel plans. Also, know where to go for further information about what to do and where to go during an actual emergency.
- Winter Storm Watch indicates severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.
- Winter Storm Warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately and can be life threatening.
- Ice Storm Warning is issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.
- Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
- Frost/Freeze Warning is issued when below freezing temperatures are expected.
- Freezing Rain is rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.
- Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground.
For more winter weather tips, contact the University Police Department at 660.562.1254, or visit the National Weather Service online at www.weather.gov or the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency at sema.dps.mo.gov.