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Red Cross: Prepare for Nasty Winter Weather

The American Red Cross' Northwest Georgia chapter offers safety tips for your home and vehicle as the temperature drops.

As winter weather approaches parts of north Georgia, the American Red Cross is encouraging families and individuals to take steps now to prepare for hazardous conditions such as icing on roads and freezing temperatures.

"Winter storms can be deceptive," Executive Director of Northwest Georgia Red Cross Jeffrey Putnam said in a release. The majority of winter-related deaths are caused by events related to the heavy snow fall, high winds and freezing rain that often accompany them.

"People can become trapped at home without utilities or other services. Motorists can become stranded in their vehicles. Walking and driving can become dangerous. But people can stay safe if they listen to their local authorities and take action to get prepared ahead of time, Putnam continued.

The American Red Cross recommends everyone prepare for winter weather with these steps: 

Get a Disaster Supplies Kit For Your Home

  • Three-day supply of water (1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and hygiene);
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable items and high-energy food, and a manual can opener;
  • First-aid kit and essential medications;
  • Battery Powered or hand-cranked radio;
  • Flashlight with extra batteries;
  • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens and hats; and
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificate, title/deed to home, insurance policies, etc.) in a water-proof container.

Get a Disaster Supplies Kit for Your Vehicle

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher (A-B-C type)
  • Compass and road maps
  • Shovel
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Flares
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction)
  • Tow rope

Make a Winter Storm Plan

  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Have additional food and water stored to last seven to 14 days.
  • Ensure that every member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, a hat and water-proof boots.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit for your home and vehicle.
  • Have your vehicle winterized before weather gets severe.
  • Decide how you would communicate with your family members should you be separated and unable to travel when a winter storm hits.

Be Informed

  • Listen to local weather officials to learn how winter weather might affect your neighborhood.
  • Know the difference between a winter storm WATCH (a winter storm is possible in your area) and a winter storm WARNING (a winter storm is headed to your area).
  • Consider getting First Aid and CPR training in case you need to respond in an emergency.

If the Power Goes Out

  • Use flashlights, not candles, for light when the power goes out.
  • Use items in the refrigerator first, then freezer, then non-perishable foods.
  • Use generators correctly. Never operate indoors; do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring.  Always read directions that come with generator before using.

Hazardous Winter Travel

The American Red Cross strongly urges everyone to monitor weather reports and follow the directions of local authorities. If travel is absolutely necessary during potentially dangerous winter weather, inform someone of your travel route, destination and expected arrival time. Store a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle and remember to keep the gas tank near full to avoid ice building up in the gas tank and fuel lines.

In Case of Snow or Black Ice

  • Stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk to safety as you will risk developing hypothermia and/or frostbite.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the vehicle and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear, so fumes won't back up in the vehicle.
  • As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to help you stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • Leave the overhead light on inside the vehicle when the engine is running so you can be seen.
  • After the snow has stopped falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

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