Winter Weather Conditions
If traveling into the mountains, or into high drift areas- snow can become a big problem very quickly. The severe cold over taking some areas further complicates matters.
Some winter weather tips to help you get through a severe stretch of cold:
- Stay indoors during the storm.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion if shoveling snow. It’s a serious workout, and going at it too hard can bring on a heart attack − a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
- Stay dry. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits the cold rapidly.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. If any of these occur, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
- If any of the hypothermia symptoms appear, get yourself (or the victim) to a warm location, remove wet clothing, and warm the center of the body first. Give the patient warm, non-alcoholic beverages if they are conscious. And of course, get medical help as soon as possible.
Prepare your home
Some tips to brace your home for a winter storm:
- Clean out the gutters, disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
- Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Repair roof leaks and remove tree branches that could get weighed down with ice or snow and fall on your house – or your neighbor’s. (Avoid liability for the latter.)
- If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you’re not using it.
- Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight if there’s a heavy snowfall.
- Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking your home’s heating vents.
- During exceptional cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Avoid ice dams – where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
- Ventilate your attic.
- Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
- Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
Prepare your car
According to the Department of Transportation, 22% of all vehicle crashes in the U.S. – and 16% of the fatalities – are due to severe weather such as rain, snow, sleet and ice. So, prepare your car for treacherous conditions and extremely cold temperatures – and know what to do if you find yourself stranded in a vehicle. When the temperatures start to drop:
- Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel during the day.
- Don’t travel alone. Keep others informed of your schedule.
- Stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
- Top off antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, gas, oil and other fluids.
- Make sure your tires have enough tread. Consider snow tires.
- Keep bagged salt or sand in the trunk for extra traction and to melt ice.
- Clear snow from the top of the car, headlights and windows.
- Save the numbers for your auto club, insurance agent and towing service into your cell phone.
- If traveling- Keep a cold-weather kit in your trunk. It should include a blanket or sleeping bag, gloves, hard candy, bottled water, folding shovel, first aid kit, flashlight and cell phone charger.
If you’re trapped in a vehicle
- Remain inside. Rescuers are more likely to find you there.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes every hour. Clear any snow from the exhaust pipe to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Move around to maintain heat.
- Use maps, floor mats and seat covers for insulation.
- Take turns sleeping. Someone should always be awake to alert rescuers.
- Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Turn on the inside light at night so rescue crews can find you.
- If you’re stranded in a remote area, stomp out the words “SOS” or “HELP” in the snow.