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Survive In Any Emergency

Blizzard/Snow And Ice Storms Safety And Preparations

You may live in the North where you are used to a fairly regularly scheduled winter season or you might be in the South where snow is a rare event. Either way, you may one day encounter a hazardous situation involving snow or freezing rain. Both can not only be dangerous, but fatal if you are not prepared.

Be sure you always have on hand everything on the emergency supply list. Have one in your home and one in your car. You may also want a kit to leave at work and one for your kids at school.

Usually there is enough warning that there is snow coming in your area. That is the time to make sure you are prepared for the worst, but don't worry too much. Most of the time snow is harmless.

When snow becomes dangerous, these conditions may appear:

  • Over 1 foot of snow falling within 2 hours
  • Snow mixed with rain
  • Freezing rain that comes before or after snow
  • Sudden temperature drops more than 10 degrees within an hour
  • These conditions are especially hard on very young children, senior citizens, and those with critical illnesses. If you are in that category, make sure you are in a safe place before the snow storm. The last thing you would want is to be stuck outside in the cold.

    When large amounts of snow falls in a short period of time, visibility is very low. If you are driving in a car, this means it will be hard to judge the distance between yourself and any cars ahead as well as pedestrians. If you are in your car when snow is coming down hard and fast be sure you have your headlights on high. Keep the windows rolled up to retain as much heat as possible and if you get foggy windows, turn on the defroster to ventilate. Drive slowly and carefully. Keep three times the normal space between you and the driver ahead. Stay in your car until you arrive to your destination.

    If you are walking about and the snow hits, walk as briskly and carefully as possible to the nearest shelter, or go home if it is close. Try to keep away from the streets. If you know there is a good chance of heavy snow coming and you need to walk, wear clothing that is highly reflective. Carry some basic supplies with you as well. Wear proper, well insulated and dry clothing. It is best to wear a few layers of clothing. Be sure to enter a place of safety before you show signs of frostbite. Stay away from streets and driveways as much as possible.

    If you are stranded in your car or out in an open area for any long period of time, you should hopefully have an emergency supply kit with you. This is why it is very important to pay attention to weather reports and prepare before you encounter this problem.

    If you have a kit and you are in your car, park your car in a safe place then retrieve the kit then get back in your car and close the doors and windows. Turn on your emergency lights. Contact help on a cell phone. Cover yourself and any passengers with the blankets. Use the heat in the car sparingly so as to not invite problems such as carbon monoxide poisoning. Set it at a low enough level to keep everyone warm. Drink water at least every two hours. Ration out portions of food. Listen to the portable radio to check for weather conditions. When you are cleared to move, proceed to the nearest shelter or go home.

    If you have a kit and are outside, be sure to bundle up as much as possible. If it is a long distance from shelter, call for help on a cell phone. Keep moving! If you have to stay outdoors, find a cave, hollowed tree, or build an igloo, while they are not exactly going to keep you safe from frostbite, they will at least shelter you a bit longer than without this protection. It may seem uncomfortable, but keep drinking liquids.

    If you do not have any safety kits and are stranded outside, you fall at great risk for frostbite. Follow the tips above as much as you can and be certain that you keep moving to help your blood flow. Try to get to a safe place as quickly as possible. Conditions may be poor and hard to travel in, but if you are not prepared for the cold for any long period of time, it is more hazardous to you to prolong being outside.

    Frostbite is one of the most commonly known problem with severe cold weather. It does not have to be sub zero weather for you to get frostbite. If the temperature is as low as 40 degrees and you are not prepared, you can suffer ill effects from the weather.

    Frostbite is like freezer burn on your skin. The cold penetrates through the layers of your skin and disarms your natural insulation properties. When your skin layers start to get cold, it eventually gets to the blood vessels which freeze. When the blood vessels freeze, it can no longer pump warm blood in that area and that area starts to die. Your skin turns white then blackens. To the extreme cases, you will have to have that part amputated. Usually the first parts of the body to fall prey to frostbite are your fingers, toes, ears and nose.

    If you start to see the first signs of frostbite, (such as tingling sensations in your limbs and extreme cold in that part of the body) that is the time to act. Do not wait much longer to administer first aid. Get into a warm place. Do not rub snow on the frostbitten area!! If you have an extra pair of mittens or warm gloves, put them on if the frostbite is on your hands. If your toes are affected, put on some extra dry socks. If it is your nose or ears, put on an extra scarf. Do not use a heated electric blanket! It may be too hot and cause more damage. You will want to gradually bring the limbs back to body temperature. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably warm liquids. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

    Your best bet would be to stock up on everything you need and run all necessary errands on the day before a snow storm. Then on the day of the storm stay in your home.

    If you live in the South, a more common hazard is an ice storm which can create dangerous situations while staying in your home. Usually the danger comes if the heavy iced rain breaks power lines. Many homes have their heating systems running on electricity (as well as stoves.) It is still safer to be in your home than outside, but you may want to also consider staying in an area such as a mall, public school, or any public forum that may have a back up generator to keep it warm.

    If you do stay at home when the electricity fails, use newspapers and blankets to cover up the windows. Be sure to seal off all cracks that would let the cold air in. If you must cook, use a barbecue grill outside. Try to use up anything in the refrigerator that will spoil quickly. Keep warm layers of clothing on and keep moving during the day. Try to sleep in the central part of the home away from windows and doors to the outside. Use oil lamps which are somewhat safer than candles. They last longer and the flame is self contained. Try to spare your battery uses to the radio to keep track of what's going on. It may seem boring, but you can do other things such as read, play games or even chores.

    When a snow storm passes, most people want to grab a shovel and start to dig themselves out. If you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, breathing conditions, and other serious medical conditions, either hire someone or ask someone to shovel for you. Snow is a lot heavier than it looks and to shovel heavy, wet snow in the cold will put a strain on your heart, lungs and most of your organs. People do die just shovelling the snow.