homepage logo


Storm preparation guidelines

By Staff | Nov 14, 2008

It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

When it does come, the first massive, thick snowflakes of a winter storm fall to the ground gracefully but fiercely.

Most individuals have a heads-up notice of an impending storm, thanks to media reports and modern technology with weather maps just a click away on the computer.

Terry Reekers, director of Emmet County Emergency Management, wants to remind residents of the following guidelines to use during a winter storm, including:

n Make sure to listen to weather reports and emergency information.

n Eat regularly and drink ample fluids. Remember to avoid caffeine and alcohol.

n Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.

n If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspaper and wrap pipes with rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold.

n Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up to toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

n Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow as this could bring on a heart attack.

It is important to protect the lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when in the outdoors. Cover your mouth and try not to speak.

“Remember to change wet clothes frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly,” he said. “Also watch for signs of frostbite which includes the loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. If symptoms develop, seek medical assistancce as soon as possible.”

It is important to avoid hypothermia which includes uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.

“If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, remove the wet clothing and replace with dry clothes. Wrap the entire body in a blanket in a warm location,” he said.

It is important to warm the center of the body first and provide warm, non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages if the person is conscious.

Safety officials urge no traveling during winter storms, but if you must, remember these tips:

n Travel during the day and don’t travel alone. Remember to share your schedule with family, friends and co-workers.

n Stay on the main roads. If occupants become trapped in a vehicle during a blizzard, Reekers offers the following advice:

n Pull off the highway and turn the hazard lights on. Hang a brightly colored distress flag from a radio antenna or window.

n Avoid the urge to leave the vehicles. Rescuers are most likely to find you if you remain inside.

n “Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building near by where you know you can take shelter. Remember distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.

n Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will offer protection from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

n Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion.

n One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.

n Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

n Do not waste battery power.

n Turn on inside light at night so rescuers can see you.