You probably saw it last night at the supermarket: everyone on line, with full shopping carts, stocking up like the coming snowstorm will last for weeks.
There's no reason to get so harried, but there are precautions you can take to make sure you, your family, your home and your car make it through the storm as safely as possible.
Here are some tips offered by the American Red Cross on what to do:
- Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing for each family member.
- Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator.
- Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
- Don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
- Avoid using a stove or oven to heat the home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.
- If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep children and pets away from the space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
On the road:
- Keep an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
- Keep the car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- If someone does get stuck, stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
- Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
- Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
- Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
Out in the cold:
- Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat.
- Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.