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Winter Storms

Winter Storms can result in downed power lines, flooding and road closures. 

Without power, and with the lack of heat, hypothermia can affect many people and animals. 

With road closures, help may not be able to reach you.

Winter storms can immobilize an entire region with extreme cold and heavy snowfall.

Terms to help identify Winter Storm Hazards

Freezing Rain:

Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, 

walkways, trees, and power lines.


Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. 

Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

Winter Storm Watch:

A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, 

commercial radio, or television for more information.

Winter Storm Warning:

A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.

Blizzard Warning:

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:

Below freezing temperatures are expected.

(Many people cannot remember the difference between a Watch and a Warning.

Try using the following to help you.

A Warning is Happening. Both end in "ing".

A Watch is something you cannot see, so you have to Watch for it:

Wait and Watch to see if it happens.)

Wind Chill

Combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin. 

As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person's body at an accelerated rate, 

driving down the body temperature.

Before a Winter Storm

Preparation for your Home

♦ Check with a professional to make sure your house is structurally sound. 

Have the roof inspected to make sure it can handle the weight of a heavy snow. 

You also want to check the drainage systems so that melting snow water does not do damage. 

Make sure the water drains away from the house.

♦ Insulate your pipes so they do not freeze. 

Consider letting your faucets drip a little if the temperature drops below freezing. 

Moving water will not freeze as fast as standing water. 

Do not forget the outside faucets.

♦ Prepare your home, the barn and other outbuildings. 

Clear out the rain gutters, have your roof checked for leaks and make necessary repairs.

♦ Trim any tree branches that could break of and fall during a storm.

♦ Insulate your attics and walls to help hold the heat inside. 

Check the caulking and weather stripping on all windows and storm doors. 

If you have old windows, consider replacing them with double 

or triple pain energy efficient windows. 

The extra insulation will help save your fuel and lower your heating bills.

♦ Know where your water main valve shut off is located and how to turn it off 

if a pipe does break.

♦ Know where your gas main valve shut off is located and how to turn it off 

if you smell gas and think there is a gas leak. 

Remember, only the gas company can turn the gas back on, and only after an inspection.

♦ Regular fuel sources may be cut off. 

Have an adequate supply of alternate fuel sources available. 

For example, if you have a fireplace or a wood burning stove, stock up on dry seasoned wood.

♦ Have your fire extinguishers handy. 

Make sure everyone knows how to use them properly. 

Since more people use alternate fuels during winter storms, house fires pose an additional risk. 

Go over your Family Plan for house fires. 

Take the extra safety precautions when using fire as a heating source.

♦ If the roads are blocked by snow, the Fire Department may not be able to respond 

as quickly as usual. 

Check with them about how many extinguishers you should have, where to keep them, 

and how to use them properly.

Add the following to your disaster supplies:

Rock Salt - to melt the ice on your driveway and walkways.

Sand - will help improve the traction on your driveway and walkways.

Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

Preparation for your Vehicles

Take your vehicles to your mechanic or dealership for service.

♦ Check your antifreeze levels.

♦ Check your battery and ignition system.

♦ Check your brakes for wear and check the brake fluid.

♦ Check your exhaust system for leaks or crimped pipes.

Carbon Monoxide from the exhaust is deadly. It has no smell.

♦ Check your filters (fuel and air).

Keep water out of your fuel system by using additives and by keeping the gas tank full.

♦ Keep the fuel level in your vehicles at least half a tank full.

♦ Check the heating system and the defroster to make sure they work properly.

♦ Check the lights and the hazard (emergency) lights.

Replace bulbs or have spare bulbs with you in the car.

♦ Check the oil for the proper level and weight. 

Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and therefore do not lubricate as well.

Check the owner's manual or dealership for options.

♦ Check the thermostat to make sure it is working as it should.

♦ Check the windshield wipers and window washer fluid level.

♦ Check your tires for proper tread. 

Consider changing to good winter tires. 

Have chains or snow tires with studs in case they are requires in your area. 

Check with your local Highway Patrol or State Troopers office for advice and requirements.

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