Nov. 15, 2013
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.
- Dress for the conditions when outdoors. 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.
- 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 (NWA), the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and local emergency managers – are joining forces to promote Wednesday, Nov. 20, as Winter Awareness Day in Missouri.
“As the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are starting to drop, it’s a subtle reminder that winter weather is just around the corner,” said Lt. Mike Ceperley, emergency management coordinator for Northwest. “Winter Awareness Day reminds everyone that extreme cold temperatures are nothing to take lightly during the upcoming months. We can’t stop winter storms or extreme cold from coming, but we can take a few moments to make sure we are properly prepared for their effects.”
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:
- 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.
- Put together 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. Be sure to 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 that severe winter weather may affect your area within 12 to 48 hours.
- Winter storm warning: Indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately, and that it can be life threatening.
- Ice storm warning: Issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.
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.