Winter storms are known as deceptive killers because most deaths are caused indirectly by the storms. About 70% occur in automobiles, including accidents on icy roads. Some are people who are caught out in the storm. 50% of deaths are in people over 60 and 70% are male. About 20% of deaths occur in the home, mostly from hypothermia (low body temperature). Know the warning signs for hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
No matter where a blizzard strikes, it could trap you there and keep supplies or help from getting to you. Have a 72-hour kit to keep you safe. It should contain food and water, including water for sanitation (like flushing toilets).
A flashlight, battery-operated lantern, or glow sticks are safe sources of light if the power goes out. It’s a good thing to have at least a three-day supply of prescription medicines. Have a good radio that will tune in your local stations – NOAA weather radio is a big plus.
Make sure to keep up with routine maintenance on your home. Check the roofing to see that it’s solid and there are no leaks. Check the insulation in the walls as well as on the pipes. Each member of your house should know where and how to shut off water and other utilities, should the need arise. If you or anyone in your household needs special help during a weather emergency, such as a blizzard, make sure you have lined up the help you need. Speak to neighbors, friends, or other family members and let them know of your needs. Do the same for your neighbors and friends.
If you are in your house when a blizzard hits, it’s good to be prepared for the worst to happen. A common occurrence is loss of power. A small generator is always a good investment and can be used to generate heat and power if needed. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to have wood either inside the house or in the garage to avoid leaving the house.
In storm conditions, drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule. Also, stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts. Be sure to bring chains if you could encounter unplowed roads or if they might be required at a particular altitude.
Regularly check to see that your car is in good running order. Again, be sure your car is in good running order with a full tank of gas.. Having an emergency kit in your car can save your life in the event you get caught in a blizzard.
Be sure to listen to the NOAA bulletins describing the current weather conditions. It’s a good idea to have an A/C powered radio designed to broadcast NOAA alerts. A Winter Storm Watch will be issued when there is a threat of severe weather. At this time, it’s a good practice to avoid unnecessary travel and stay tuned for further bulletins. If a Winter Storm Warning is issued, the best thing to do is to stay inside. If you must go out, dress appropriately and use caution when moving about, being alert for ice and large drifts of snow. Don’t be a victim of the deceptive killer.