Monday, December 3, 2012

Disaster Preparedness Guide - Part 5. Weather Conditions

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Disaster Preparedness Guide - Part 5

In the previous messages we have discussed Floods, Hurricanes and Tornadoes.  Part 5 in this series provides more specific information about dealing with Winter Storms.  Here is advice that will help you protect yourself and your family against the hazards of winter storms--blizzards, heavy snows, ice
storms, freezing rain, or sleet.


Use your radio, television, newspapers and Internet to keep informed of current weather conditions and forecasts in your area. Even a few hours' warning of a storm may enable you to avoid being caught outside in it, or at least be better prepared to cope with it. You should also understand the terms commonly used in weather forecasts:
  • - A blizzard is the most dangerous of all winter storms. Itcombines cold air, heavy snow, and strong winds that blow the snow about and may reduce visibility to only a few yards. A blizzard warning is issued when the weather service expects considerable snow, winds of 35 miles an hour or more, and temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. A severe blizzard warning means that a very heavy snowfall is expected, with winds of at least 45 miles an hour and temperatures of 10 degrees or lower.
  • - A heavy snow warning usually means an expected snowfall of 4 inches or more in a 12-hour period, or 6 inches or more in a 24-hour period. Warnings of snow flurries, snow squalls, or blowing and drifting snow are important mainly because visibility may be reduced and roads may become slippery or blocked.
  • - Freezing rain or freezing drizzle is forecast when expected rain is likely to freeze as soon as it strikes the ground, putting a coating of ice or glaze on roads and everything else that is exposed. If a substantial layer of ice is expected to accumulate from the freezing rain, an ice storm is forecast.
  • - Sleet is small particles of ice, usually mixed with rain. If enough sleet accumulates on the ground, it will make the roads slippery.

If you live in a rural area, make sure you could survive at home for a week or two in case a storm isolated you and made it impossible for you to leave. You should:
  • - Keep an adequate supply of heating fuel on hand and use itsparingly, as your regular supplies may be curtailed by storm conditions. If necessary, conserve fuel by keeping the house cooler than usual, or by "closing off" some rooms temporarily. Also, have available some kind of emergency heating equipment and fuel so you could keep at least one room of your house warm enough to be livable. This could be a camp stove with fuel, or a supply of wood or coal if you have a fireplace. If your furnace is controlled by a thermostat and your electricity is cut off by a storm, the furnace probably would not operate and you would need emergency heat.
  • - Stock an emergency supply of food and water, as well as emergency cooking equipment such as a camp stove. Some of this food should be of the type that does not require refrigeration or cooking.
  • - Make sure you have a battery-powered radio and extra batteries on hand, so that if your electric power is cut off you could still hear weather forecasts, information and advice broadcast by local authorities. Also, flashlights or lanterns would be needed.
  • - Be sure to keep on hand the simple tools and equipment needed to fight a fire. Also, be certain that all family members know how to take precautions that would prevent fire at such a time, when the help of the fire department may not be available.
    Avoid all unnecessary trips. If you must travel, use public transportation if possible. However, if you
    are forced to use your automobile for a trip of any distance, take these precautions:
    • - Make sure your car is in good operating condition, properly
    • serviced,and equipped with chains or snow tires.
  • - Take another person with you if possible.
  • - Make sure someone knows where you are going, your approximate
  • schedule, and your estimated time of arrival at your destination.
  • - Have emergency "winter storm supplies" in the car, such as a
  • container of sand, shovel, windshield scraper, tow chain or rope,
  • extra gasoline, and a flashlight. It also is good to have with you
  • heavy gloves or mittens, overshoes, extra woolen socks, and winter
  • headgear to cover your head and face.
  • - Travel by daylight and use major highways if you can. Keep the
  • car radio turned on for weather information and advice.
  • - Drive with all possible caution. Don't try to save time by
  • traveling faster than road and weather conditions permit.
  • - Don't be daring or foolhardy. Stop, turn back, or seek help if
  • conditions threaten that may test your ability or endurance, rather
  • than risk being stalled, lost or isolated. If you are caught in a
  • blizzard, seek refuge immediately.
    If your car breaks down during a storm, or if you become stalled or lost, don't panic. Think the problem through, decide what's the safest and best thing to do, and then do it slowly and carefully. If you are on a well-traveled road, show a trouble signal.
    Set your directional lights to flashing, raise the hood of your car, or hang a cloth from the radio aerial or car window. Then stay in your car and wait for help to arrive. If you run the engine to keep warm, remember to open a window enough to provide ventilation and protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.
    Wherever you are, if there is no house or other source of help in sight, do not leave your car to search for assistance, as you maybecome confused and get lost.
    Every winter many unnecessary deaths occur because people--especially older persons, but younger ones as well--engage in more strenuous physical activity than their bodies can stand.
    Cold weather itself, without any physical exertion, puts an extra strain on your heart. If you add to this physical exercise, especially exercise that you are not accustomed to--such as shoveling snow, pushing an automobile, or even walking fast or far--you are risking a heart attack, a stroke, or other damage to your body.
    In winter weather, and especially in winter storms, be aware of this danger, and avoid overexertion.
    One of the later emails in this series includes more information and a comprehensive list of Emergency Supplies.  However, in the meantime, you can visit to see a complete selection of Emergency Supplies.
    This email series and information is provided free of charge by, and will provide you  information about how to respond to various types of disasters.  Please forward this important
    information to your family and friends. 
    This series is based on the handbook, "The Disaster Preparedness Guide," which is available
    for purchase and download at
    For more information on preparing for emergencies, and to see a complete listing of Emergency Supplies, please visit  You can also purchase a complete copy of this handbook in eBook format. 
    Please visit us online at: or email us at
    This guide is meant to be instructional, and information herein is believed to be current and correct. 
    The teaching in this handbook and all materials are meant to provide information that will help you understand and reduce the risk from disasters.  The companies, agencies and individuals involved in the preparation, printing and distribution of any material assume no responsibility for any damage that arises from any action that is based on information found in this material Thank you again for visiting 
    We hope that you find this list useful and informative.


    Dave Walter

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