Winter weather safety outlined at Ready U sessionWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Frostbite, hypothermia, power outages and snow emergency levels were among the topics addressed by local weatherman “Blizzard Bill” Spencer during a recent Ready U presentation about winter weather safety.
13abc’s meteorologist told the group of area residents gathered Nov. 14 at the Main Library for the free, hour-long program that this winter was likely to start slow, but pack a wallop early next year.
“We’re probably not going to see a lot of snow in November and probably not much in December either,” Spencer said. “It’s really going to kick in, like last year, right after the holidays, especially the middle of January, that six- to eight-week period where we had a whole winter’s worth, a record amount of snow. I think that could happen again. There are indications of a very active storm track. We just have to be ready.”
The best way to protect yourself during winter weather is to think ahead and use common sense, Spencer said.
“Always think ahead to the worse scenario and you should be fine,” Spencer said.
Put emergency supplies in your vehicle and make sure to keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing. Always have a cell phone and car charger with you.
If you get stranded, remain inside the vehicle. Tie a red scarf to the antenna so your vehicle can be seen by tow trucks and snow plows. Keep windows slightly ajar and run the car’s heater 10 to 15 minutes per hour. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear.
“Don’t set out walking unless you see a building because you could lose your way,” said Spencer, adding that distance can also be distorted by blowing snow. “You could be 30 feet from your car and not even know it and freeze to death.”
If you do leave the vehicle, consider tying a roll of twine to your vehicle so you can find your way back, Spencer said.
When a winter storm watch is declared, it’s a good idea to stock up on food and supplies — but stick to nonperishable food so it won’t go to waste if the storm doesn’t happen or if there’s a power outage, Spencer said. If purchasing canned foods, make sure you have a manual can opener.
A watch means winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 -48 hours and residents are advised to review emergency plans and monitor local weather reports. A warning means life-threatening conditions have already begun or will begin within 24 hours and residents should take precautions immediately.
If power is lost, turn off or disconnect all appliances, so there’s not a surge when the power comes back on. Leave one light on so you can tell when the power returns. Flashlights are safer than candles. Eliminate unnecessary travel, since traffic lights may be out as well.
Food in an unopened refrigerator can last about four hours. Food in a full, unopened freezer can last up to 48 hours, or 24 hours in a half-full freezer.
“If the power outage is short-term, refrigerated food should be fine, but if it goes on for 24 hours, the food’s done. Toss it. Just get rid of it. Really play it safe. We don’t want anyone to get food poisoning,” Spencer said.
A level 1 snow emergency rating means motorists are urged to drive cautiously. Level 2 means motorists should use extreme caution and should drive only if necessary. Level 3 means roads are closed to all motorists except essential emergency personnel and other drivers may be subject to arrest. If your job may require you to drive during a level 3 emergency, consider asking your employer for a letter in case you get pulled over, Spencer said.
The best winter outfit consists of warm, loose-fitting clothing in several layers, including a hat and gloves.
Never use a generator, grill, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside the home, including a garage, basement or any enclosed area. When using such devices outdoors, make sure they are located away from doors, windows and vents that would allow carbon monoxide inside the house.
“It’s amazing how fast levels can build and become dangerous,” said Tom Barnhizer, deputy director of Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, who was in attendance at the event.
Free carbon monoxide detectors were given to all attendees.
Ready U, a yearlong series presented by the Red Cross of Greater Toledo and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, is designed to educate the public and prepare individuals and families for potential emergencies in Northwest Ohio.
The next Ready U event, called “Planning Your Victory Garden,” is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Anderson Activity Room, 1833 S. Holland-Sylvania Road, in Maumee.
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of Ready U.
To learn more, visit the website www.ready-u.com.