JEFFERSON CITY – The fallen leaves on the lawn and morning frost on the windshield are reminders that winter – and the possibility of heavy snowfall and ice storms – is right around the corner. To call attention to the importance of planning ahead, Nov. 18 is being promoted as Winter Weather Awareness Day by the National Weather Service, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, the State Emergency Management Agency and Missouri’s local emergency managers. In 2011, much of Missouri was affected by record snowfall and blizzard conditions that kept many in their homes and closed I-70 across the state. In 2009, a severe ice storm knocked out power to thousands for days in southeast Missouri. Both serve as reminders of the hazards winter weather can present and the importance of preparing in advance. The National Weather Service has prepared a webpage with lots of safety tips and information about winter weather and its impact Some of the severe winter weather preparations Missourians can make include:
- Create a family emergency plan and an emergency kit. Emergency supplies should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit.
- Know the risks of exposure to cold temperatures. Protect against frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting clothing in several layers. Limit time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures and stay indoors, if possible.
- Make sure alternate heat and power sources, such as fireplaces, woodstoves, oil heaters and generators function properly. These sources can be dangerous and must be maintained and operated. Keep the correct fuel for each source on hand in a safe location. Properly install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Only operate generators outdoors.
- Assemble a separate vehicle winter emergency kit. Include a blanket, radio with spare batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, shovel and sand or shingles to give tires traction.
- Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, make sure an emergency kit is in the vehicle, that cell phones are charged and emergency numbers are saved for fast dialing. Check on road conditions in advance on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traveler Info Map. If your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road, stay with your vehicle and call or wait for help.
- Winter Storm Watch – Severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.
- Winter Storm Warning – Severe winter weather is in the area or is imminent and could be life threatening.
- Ice Storm Warnings – Ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more are expected in your area.