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Less Snow, More Blizzards, More Reason to be Prepared

Scientists think we will start seeing more blizzards, but less overall snowfall, in coming years based on their theories on global warming. This could mean more hazardous conditions for drivers as well as those with the wisdom to stay home in bad weather.

Sudden blizzards can not only make it impossible to drive, but they can also knock out power for days, weeks, or even longer.

Now is a good time to consider a preparedness plan for your family. Everyone should have their own emergency kit. You should also pack an emergency kit for your pets who rely on you to take care of them in an emergency. Consider storing water for emergency use if pipes freeze and you can’t get water to your home.

We’ve also discussed the importance of having an emergency car kit. If you must go out in hazardous weather, make sure you have what you need to stay safe if there is an emergency. Really, staying home is the best course of action.

What are you supposed to do while you’re snowed in? Well if you still have power, or at least a working cell phone, you can assist with some weather research. According to an article from The Atlantic Wire, you can help researches gather snowstorm data.

With an app called mPing, you can collect all kinds of weather-related data and send it to The National Severe Storms Laboratory. This data will help them develop algorithms that aid in detecting and reporting various types of precipitation.

Data is needed from all over the US, so download the app for the Ping Project and help out the NSSL scientists, no matter what type of weather you are experiencing.

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How to Drive in Snow

how to drive in snow

In severe weather, the best thing to do is stay where you are. Realistically though, you may need to drive in the snow, even if the roads are bad.

Make sure you have an emergency road kit as well as extra blankets and an emergency kit in your vehicle before you hit the road, just to be safe.

While you drive, keep these tips in mind:

1. Start slowly to get an idea of how the road feels. It is important to drive slowly and keep control of your vehicle. You should also stay alert, so you are aware of other motorists who may not be able to control their vehicles.

2. If possible, you should have chains or studded tires to allow better traction in snow and ice.

3. Don’t expect to go the speed limit. Snowy roads mean slower speeds. Allow extra time to get to your destination.

4. If you need to stop, pump the brakes gently. Do not make sudden movements or slam on the brakes or you could slide and lose control of your vehicle. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure and do not pump the brakes.

5. Allow plenty of space between you and other vehicles. Be aware of conditions and watch in case they make sudden stops.

If your rear wheels start to skid…

1. Take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction that the rear wheels are going.

2. If the rear wheels start to skid the other way, gently steer in that direction.

3. Continue until you have regained control of the vehicle.

4. Apply the brakes as needed, either pumping the brakes gently or applying steady pressure if you have anti-lock brakes.

If your front wheels skid…

1. Take your foot off the gas and shift into neutral without trying to steer.

2. As the vehicle starts to slow, you will once again gain traction. Steer the direction you want to go and shift back into drive, accelerating slowly.

For more winter driving tips, watch this video from AAA.

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Snow, Driving, and Staying Safe – 8 Winter Driving Tips

be prepared for winter driving

While most people know that driving in severe winter weather isn’t wise, it doesn’t seem to really stop anyone. After all, the winter months are also some of the busiest traveling months of the year with the holidays. And, even if it snows, most people still have jobs to get to.

So what can you to do ensure that you are safe driving in the snowy weather? Here are a few tips for when you just can’t stay home.

1. Be aware of the weather – There are plenty of free weather apps for your smartphone, so make sure you are always aware of what the weather is doing in your area. If things are going to get nasty, it is wise to find a place to shelter until the worst has passed.

2. Call ahead – Make sure someone knows you are on your way and the estimated time of your arrival. If you are not at your destination in a reasonable amount of time, your contact person should know to call for help.

3. Make sure you eat and drink – Believe it or not, you can get dehydrated just as easily in cold weather. Make sure you bring plenty of water and drink as you travel. Also, have snacks and emergency food in your vehicle.

4. Take your time – Leave early and allow yourself extra time to get to your destination. If the roads are slick, you will need to drive slower, and a sudden storm could stop you in your tracks.

5. Make sure you have good tires – Make sure they are properly inflated as well. Be sure your tires have at least an 1/8th inch of tread and consider having tire chains in your vehicle. And of course, know how to use those chains when you get them.

6. Keep a full tank of gas – This adds a bit of weight, but also helps you keep warm if you end up stranded and have to run the vehicle for heat.

7. If you get stuck, stay put – Don’t try to get out and walk until you find help. People have died doing this. It is much safer to wait for help to find you. Make sure the snow isn’t blocking your tail pipe and run the car for 10 minutes each hour to stay warm until help arrives.

8. Have an emergency kit – Your kit should at least have a shovel, sand or cat litter, flairs, an extra blanket, de-icer, weather radio, tow rope, a flashlight and emergency food and water.

For tips on handling your car if you skid, visit The Weather Channel’s Driving Safety Tips page.

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What Is Hypothermia and What Should You Do About It

Dress appropriately to prevent hypothermia.

 

Whether you’ve spent too much time dashing through the snow or you are stranded in your car during a freak storm, knowing how to prevent and treat hypothermia is essential.

What Causes Hypothermia

You may be surprised to learn that hypothermia isn’t just a cold weather condition. Even in the summer, if you are in the water for too long (in a boating accident or scuba diving, for example) you can become hypothermic. In fact, cold water, even if the outside air is warm, can cause you to become hypothermic faster than being on land.

Alcohol increases the risk of hypothermia because it increases the body’s blood flow to the skin and extremities, causing a person to lose heat faster, even though they may feel warm.

Symptoms of Hypothermia

Any time your core body temperature gets below 95 degrees F, you are considered hypothermic. Early symptoms include shivering, confusion and hypoglycemia. As it worsens, the victim may start to shiver more violently, and show a lack of muscle coordination. Movements may appear slow and labored and the victim may stumble around. Pale skin along with blue lips, fingers, ears and toes are other symptoms to watch for.

As hypothermia becomes more severe, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure decrease. The person affected will have trouble speaking and thinking, may experience amnesia and will seem to get even more clumsy with an inability to use their hands.

In infants, hypothermia can be recognized by bright red, cold skin as well as very low energy.

Hypothermia Treatment

As soon as you start to see symptoms of hypothermia, you should take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, seek medical help immediately. If you cannot get medical help, you should begin the rewarming process on your own, following these steps:

1. Get the victim to shelter or into a warm room.

2. Remove wet clothing if applicable.

3. Begin warming the core (chest, head, neck, groin) with an electric blanket if possible. Another option is skin to skin contact under a loose covering – blankets, towels, etc.

4. If the patient is conscious, give them a warm beverage to warm them from the inside out. Do not give them any type of alcohol.

5. Even as the body’s temperature increases, the patient should be kept covered, including the head and neck. Medical attention should be a priority as soon as possible.

If a person seems to be unconscious, or even dead, you should still attempt CPR. Keep in mind, as the body gets colder it will begin to shut down to conserve energy. Proceed with rewarming the victim while CPR is being provided and seek medical help as soon as possible. It may be possible to resuscitate the victim.

Preventing Hypothermia

Hypothermia can be prevented by wearing weather-appropriate clothing and avoiding alcohol if you are going to be outdoors in the cold or out on your boat for the day. Even in warm weather, have a way to cover up if you get chilled swimming in cold water.

A hat, scarf and mittens in cold weather will help prevent heat loss from your body. You should also prevent sweating by not overexerting yourself. Sweaty clothing in cold weather will cause you to lose body heat faster. Staying dry is essential.

Wear loose-fitting layers so you can add or remove clothing as necessary to stay comfortable. Wind and water repellant outer layers, combined with wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers will do the best job of holding in body heat.

Small children should have one more layer than adults and should come inside often to warm themselves. Limit their time outdoors when it is very cold.

Make sure your car is stocked with your emergency kit, including several blankets, extra clothing, first aid kit, emergency food and water, and a cell phone. If you become stranded, run the car for 10 minutes out of every hour, making sure the windows are cracked slightly. Be sure the exhaust pipe isn’t covered in snow.

And finally, if someone you know needs help keeping their home warm in the winter, contact your public health office or social services agency to see what aid is available to help them stay warm and safe in the cold winter months. Even bringing them some extra blankets and checking in on them periodically can save a life.

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5 Hidden Hazards of Winter Storms

winter storms cause hazards

When you think of winter storms, you may think of power outages and hazardous driving conditions. However, winter storms present other hazards that you may not think of. These are hazards that you need to be aware of in order to be properly prepared.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, winter storms can cause serious hazards beyond the obvious. Here are 5 tips to help you stay safe:

  1. It is always wise to have an alternate source for heating your home, but be sure to use those sources properly and carefully. Used incorrectly, these heat sources can also cause a fire in your home.
  2. Heavy snow or ice can knock down power lines, which in turn are very dangerous. They can cause fires or injure a person touching them. Stay far away from down power lines.
  3. Freezing temperatures can also cause burst water lines.
  4. Be sure you use generators properly with the correct power cords to carry the electrical load. Generators should be used outdoors to prevent CO2 poisoning.
  5. Use only the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer in your alternative heaters. Give heaters at least three feet of space to keep things from catching fire, and if you use kerosene heaters, make sure they are legal in your area.

For more winter safety tips, visit Winter Storm Fire Safety from the USFA.

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