It’s official. Winter has arrived! For most of us, that means the possibility of winter storms that bring freezing rain, ice, snow, and high winds. Extreme winter weather can immobilize an entire region. Storms can knock out heat, power, and communications. It can make driving and walking hazardous. You may need to stay at home or work without utilities or other services until driving is safe. Pipes and water mains can break. By the time severe weather hits, it’s already too late. But a little planning and preparation can help you manage the impact of a winter storm and keep you and your family cozy and safe.
Before bad weather sets in, make sure you or a mechanic completes a winter weather check on your vehicle, This should include checking antifreeze levels, battery and ignition system, brakes, exhaust system, fuel and air filters, heater and defroster, lights and flashers, oil, thermostat, windshield wipers, and tires.
Your family may not be together when a winter storm hits. So it’s important to know how your family will contact one another in an emergency, and how you will get back together once it is safe to travel again. A storm may overwhelm landline and cell phone systems. You may need to use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends. Be sure to keep important numbers written down in your wallet in case you cannot access the contact list in your phone. To see a sample household communication plan, visit ready.gov/make-a-plan
Winter storms and extreme cold usually come with advance notice. The NWS, or National Weather Service, issues advisories, watches, and warnings for significant accumulations of snow, freezing rain, sleet, and extreme cold. This information will be provided through radio and TV broadcasts, and via Wireless Emergency Alerts texted to cell phones. You can sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services. Download Be Smart, Know Your Alerts and Warnings for a summary of notifications. Visit ready.gov/prepare Free smartphone apps are also available from FEMA, which is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross with information about finding shelters, first aid, and seeking recovery assistance.
You often hear these terms used to describe changing weather conditions. Here’s what they mean:
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