Ekland Durousseau, American Red Cross
The first wave of winter weather has settled over the Texas Gulf Coast bringing grey skies and icy rain. Here in the South we rarely encounter severe winter safety issues, thankfully the American Red Cross offers the following reminders to help people stay safe this winter:
- Stay informed – Remain alert to changing weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and warnings. The Winter Storm section contains advice for what to do before, during and after winter storms.
- Emergency kit – Emergency kits are essential in any severe weather situation. Make sure yours includes: Three days of food and nonperishable water for each person in the home, a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand crank radio to stay informed about the weather, medications and medical items, extra cash, cell phones and chargers, baby supplies and warm clothing for everyone.
- Pets – Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- Attire – Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm.
- Home preparation – Learn how to protect pipes from freezing.
- Shelter – Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
WINTER DRIVING TIPS
- Avoid driving when severe winter conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help see.
- Before leaving, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on icy/snowy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in severe winter weather.
- Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
- Have a mechanic check your tires, battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil
- If you experience car trouble, do your best to move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you must get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
HOME HEATING SAFETY
- Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Never operate a generator inside the home, including the garage. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. Connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
More information about winter safety is available at: www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.