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The landscape surrounding the Memorial Bell Tower is coated with snow after a December snowfall. (Photo by Scott Meadows/Northwest Missouri State University)

The landscape surrounding the Memorial Bell Tower is coated with snow after a December snowfall. (Photo by Scott Meadows/Northwest Missouri State University)

Jan. 15, 2020

Northwest reminds students, employees to take precautions during winter weather

With winter’s arrival, Northwest Missouri State University reminds students and employees to stay informed of changing conditions and to take precautions before inclement weather arrives.

As with any emergency at Northwest, the University communicates campus closings to students and employees via its Bearcat Alert text messaging and email systems as well as official social media accounts and the University website. When the campus remains open during inclement weather, Northwest students and employees are asked to exercise their own judgment to decide whether they can travel safely to campus.

“Winter weather can present itself with little time to act,” Northwest Police Chief Dr. Clarence Green said. “Thus, having a predetermined plan is essential to ensuring your safety.”

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.

Northwest provides winter weather safety tips below. For more information related to dealing with winter weather, contact the University Police Department at 660.562.1254, or visit the National Weather Service online at or the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency at


Winter weather preparedness 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. Wear a hat that covers your ears and mittens, which 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.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you plan to be outdoors in cold weather. Alcoholic beverages cause your body to lose heat faster. Eating well-balanced meals and drinking warm, sweet drinks, such as hot chocolate, will help you stay warmer.

Winter weather forecasting

It is 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.

Winter weather around the home

  • 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 by checking the 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 a 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.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215