Being Prepared

■ For your vehicle
    • Shovel • First aid kit • Non-perishable food • Flashlight • Candles and matches • Extra clothing • Tire chains • Booster cables • Cellphone with charged battery

■ For your home and workplace
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information
    • Extra food and water such as dried fruit, nuts and granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
    • Extra prescription medicine
    • Baby items such as diapers and formula
    • First-aid supplies
    • Heating fuel: refuel before you are empty; fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a winter storm
    • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove, space heater, properly ventilated to prevent a fire
    • Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm; test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly
    • Extra pet food and warm shelter for pets

■ On the farm
    • Move animals to sheltered areas or bring
pets inside. Shelters, properly laid out
and oriented, are better protection for
cattle than confined shelters, such as sheds.
    • Haul extra feed to nearby feeding areas.
    • Have water available. Most animals
die from dehydration in winter storms.
    • Make sure pets have plenty of food,
water and shelter.
Source: National Weather Service


Road Conditions:  Dial 511

    REGIONAL – The annual weather summary from the Farmers Almanac says this winter will be milder than normal and wet, but not necessarily the precipitation being all snow.
    December has shown some snow, but the cold tempteratures this month aren’t what the almanac has forecasted thus far for the winter, but that could all change soon.  In general, it’s forecasted to be above average temperatures and particularly wet.
    The almanac paints a picture of the coldest temperatures of the winter in late December to early January and then again in early February, with the heaviest snow projected for early February.
    It’s always fun to project what could come, but regardless of what some forecasters say, we know it’s going to be cold and snowy in Iowa during winter.  Remarkably, Shelby County in general hasn’t had to deal much yet with too much of the white stuff.
    As Shelby County settles in for what promises to be yet another long winter, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how to prepare, especially when traveling.  Shelby County Emergency Management Director Alex Londo said this week that’s a key to safety this winter.


During the storm

■ If caught outdoors
    • Find shelter. Try to stay dry and cover all exposed body parts.
    • No shelter? Build a lean-to windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
    • Melt snow for drinking water; eating unmelted snow will lower your body temperature.
    • Exercise: From time to time, move arms, legs, fingers and toes vigorously to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. Avoid overexertion such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow if you are not in good health. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

■ If you have to travel
    • Slow down! Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick. More than 6,000 fatalities occur on the roadways each year due to weather conditions.
    • Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip.
    • Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, they will know where to start a search.
    • Don’t leave the house without the following:
    Fully charged mobile phone and car charger and emergency supplies kit for  your car.
    If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
    If  you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won’t mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.

■ If your vehicle gets stuck
    • Stay in the vehicle!
    • If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
    • Run the motor about  10 minutes each hour for heat.
    • While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
    • Be visible to rescuers.
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
    • Tie a bright colored cloth, preferable red, to your antenna or door.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

■ If heat goes out at home
    • Close off unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat.
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
    • Cover windows at night.
    • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating perspiration and subsequent chill.
Source: National Weather Service

Watches, warnings and advisories

    • Freezing Rain:  Rain that freezes when it hits the ground; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
    • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
    • Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind Chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill; but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions. Read how the Wind Chill Index was developed.

    • Blizzard Watches are issued when there is a potential for falling and/or blowing snow with strong winds and extremely poor visibilities. This can lead to white out conditions and make travel very dangerous.
    • Winter Storm Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for a significant winter storm event (Heavy Sleet, Heavy Snow, Ice Storm, Heavy Snow and Blowing Snow or a combination of events.)
    • Wind Chill Watches are issued when there is the potential for a combination of very cold air and strong winds to create dangerously low wind chill values.

    • Blizzard Warnings are issued for frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph accompanied by falling and/or blowing snow, frequently reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three hours or more. A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring.
    Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely, leading to white out conditions making travel extremely difficult. Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
    • Winter storm warnings  are issued for a significant winter weather event including snow, ice, sleet or blowing snow or a combination of these hazards. Travel will become difficult and impossible in some situations. Delay your travel plans until conditions improve.
    • Ice storm warnings are usually issued for ice accumulation of around 1/4 inch or more. This amount of ice accumulation will make travel dangerous or impossible and likely lead to snapped power lines and falling tree branches. Travel is strongly discouraged.
    • Wind chill warnings are issued for a combination of very cold air and strong winds which will create dangerously low wind chill values.
    This will result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. Avoid going outdoors and wear warm protective clothing if you must venture outside.
Source: National Weather Service

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