EMA, Red Cross prepare public for winterWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As the temperature drops, individuals and families need to prepare themselves for winter-related emergencies.
To better prepare the public for winter, the Red Cross of Greater Toledo and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will address cold emergencies in its next Ready U session, “COLD — It’s a Killer.”
The third session of the year-long series will discuss snow emergencies, blizzard conditions, ice storms and symptoms of cold injuries, among other topics, said Tom Barnhizer, deputy director of the Lucas County EMA.
“We ask the public to think about what kind of conditions can occur in the winter and use their common sense on how they are going to respond when those conditions do come up,” he said.
Barnhizer said there are a number of winter emergencies that can occur in Northwest Ohio and the public needs to be prepared.
The first type of emergency would be a snow emergency. Each level snow emergency has its own risk, but Level 3 emergencies are the most severe, Barnhizer said.
“The worst case would be a Level 3. Everyone should stay off road unless it’s an absolute emergency, because people may not be able to get where they need to go and become stranded or isolated,” he said.
Barnhizer noted that the conditions associated with any level snow emergency also pose a threat to those with health conditions; those with pre-existing conditions are at risk for strokes or heart attacks while shoveling the heavy wet snow, he said.
Another winter emergency is an ice storm. Each year, Lucas County averages at least 1 to 3 ice storms, Barnhizer said.
Ice is heavy and can cause weak structures to collapse and break power lines. Families and individuals should be prepared for possible power outages lasting at least three days, Barnhizer said.
Individuals and families should have kits at home with food, water and other necessities in case of a power outage or snowstorm.
In addition to home kits, individuals should also have a kit in the car in case the car gets stranded, he said. Some things the kit should have are food, water and a sleeping bag.
One basic step individuals can take to prepare their car for the winter is to always have half a tank of gas, Barnhizer said. A car can be heated for up to three days on a half-tank of gas if it’s turned on and off to warm sporadically during that time, he said.
If someone is stranded in a storm he or she shouldn’t leave the car either, because a vehicle is easier to find in a snowstorm than an individual person.
Cold temperatures can also pose risks of hypothermia and frostbite so every time people go out they should layer up, Barnhizer said. The cold poses an increased threat to the elderly, the young and the sick.
“Every type of emergency condition or disaster has its own unique features that pose hazards to the public. It’s important to understand how they can affect us,” Barnhizer said. “We want to make sure people understand how their individual preparedness can affect their ability to survive.”
“Blizzard” Bill Spencer of 13abc will lead the hour-long event, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Main Branch, 325 N. Michigan St. on Nov. 22. Representatives from the Lucas County EMA, such as Barnhizer, as well as representatives from the Red Cross will be on hand to answer any cold-emergency-related questions individuals might have.
Funding for Ready U comes from a combination of grant money from the Department of Homeland Security to the Lucas County EMA and donations from The Andersons.
For more about Ready U programs and information on how to prepare for an emergency, visit ready-u.com.
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor for the Ready U program.