5 tips for weathering a snow storm

July 28, 2015

When a winter storm hits, danger can happen if you aren't prepared. Follow these tips for weathering the storm, whether staying in or out in the elements.

5 tips for weathering a snow storm

1. Be aware

  • Listen to local television and radio stations, and evacuate if you are advised to do so.
  • Be sure to turn off the electric power and the gas and water coming into the house before you go.

2. Get ready ahead of time

  • Prepare your car by filling it with gas, putting on snow tires, and parking it in the garage or where the engine is protected from blowing snow.
  • Keep a small emergency kit in your car during the winter, including a bag of sand, blankets or sleeping bags, non-perishable snacks, drinking water, a flashlight, jumper cables, extra batteries, a shovel, a window scraper, a warm hat, waterproof gloves, and a first-aid kit.
  • Drive through a snowstorm only in genuine emergencies — but never alone, if possible — and stick to the main roads.
  • Tell someone where you're going and when you're expected to arrive.

3. If you're staying put during a storm

  • Have extra clothing and blankets ready for use in case the power goes out.
  • Line up an alternative form of heating, such as kerosene or propane space heaters, plus enough fuel to last a week. If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, stock up on wood.
  • Keep your community's emergency phone numbers on hand, including emergency medical numbers.
  • If you normally cook with electricity, have an alternative cooking method (such as a camp stove or a gas grill) at the ready. It is unsafe to use many of these alternative appliances indoors, so be sure to keep them outside, or use them only in the other well-ventilated places indicated in the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Stock enough food and water to last a week.
  • Prepare an emergency care kit.
  • Store the snow-clearing tools or materials you might need — rock salt, shovels, scrapers, snowblowers — in a place that you can easily access, even after a heavy snowfall. Also keep a supply of silicone spray to lubricate snow-blowing machinery.

4. If you're stuck in the elements

  • If you're caught outside in a snowstorm while you're on foot, head for the nearest shelter.
  • If the snow keeps you from seeing ahead, follow a fence or ruts in the road.
  • Tie a scarf over your nose and mouth to protect your lungs, ears, and face and to prevent suffocation from the wind and snow.
  • If you're stranded in a car, don't get out. Run the engine occasionally for warmth, but keep a window open. Be sure the exhaust pipe isn't blocked by snow, or carbon monoxide may back up into the car.
  • If the car runs out of gas, keep all the windows shut, but be on the lookout for help constantly.
  • Exercise or at least move your arms and legs for warmth and to keep yourself awake.
  • Don't go to sleep under any circumstances.

5. Look ahead

  • Continue to listen for news flashes and updated weather information, even after the snow stops.
  • Major winter storms are often followed by even colder conditions. If you go outdoors, dress warmly and watch out for falling icicles; knock them down with a rake or pole.
  • Avoid overexertion. Many people have heart attacks while shoveling snow. It is also a strain on the heart to walk through heavy snow or to push a car through it.
  • Avoid driving until the roads are clear.
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