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Are You Ready To Survive A Winter Storm?


Preparations BEFORE THE STORM are the most important safety factors in the winter season to keep you and your family safe. As snow, reduced visibility and other climatic variables occur in the winter, this prevents you from being able to move around to get supplies. Thus making sure you have the necessary supplies and tools is something that should be done before the storm arrives. Most home-heating systems depend on electric power. To prepare for a power failure, you may consider installing a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose approved heating units that do not depend on an electric motor, electric fan or other electric device to function. If the standby heating unit uses the normal house oil or gas supply, ensure that it is connected and vented properly.


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WINTER STORMS ARE CONSIDERED DECEPTIVE KILLERS .....

BECAUSE MOST DEATHS ARE INDIRECTLY RELATED TO THE STORM


           People die in traffic accidents on icy roads.

           People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.



Winter Deaths


Everyone is potentially at risk during winter storms. The actual threat to you depends on your specific situation.

Recent observations indicate the following:


Related to ice and snow:

Related to exposure to cold:


FROSTBITE

Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.


HYPOTHERMIA: LOW BODY TEMPERATURE

Warning signs - uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.


Detection - Take the person's temperature. If below 95F (35C),immediately seek medical care! If medical care is not available, begin warming the person slowly. Warm the body core first. If needed, use your own body heat to help. Get the person into dry clothing, and wrap them in a warm blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any hot beverage or food; warm broth is better. Do not warm extremities (arms and legs) first! This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to heart failure.


WIND CHILL

The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill.


AVOID OVEREXERTION, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.



Winter Precipitation


Snow . . .


FLURRIES - Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.

SHOWERS - Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.

SQUALLS - Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes region.

BLOWING SNOW - Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.

BLIZZARD - Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.

SLEET - Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.

FREEZING RAIN - Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

BLACK ICE is ice frozen without many air bubbles trapped inside, making it transparent. Black ice takes the color of the material it lies on top of, often wet asphalt or a darkened pond. Its difficult-to-detect nature makes it a significant hazard to drivers and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses can be especially dangerous. Black ice forms first on bridges and overpasses because air can circulate both above and below the surface of the elevated roadway, causing the temperature to drop more rapidly than on regular pavement.






BE PREPARED!!


KEEP AHEAD OF THE STORM by listening to Weather Radio, commercial radio,

and television for the latest winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories.



What to Listen For...


The three types of weather alerts include:


Special Weather Statements are issued for weather events that are unusual, cause general inconvenience or public concern and cannot adequately be described in a weather forecast. Special weather statements may be issued daily in summer to describe where thunderstorms are expected or occurring, or may reflect a warning in effect near our borders. These statements are updated as needed.


Watches provides a “heads-up” that conditions are favorable for a possible summer or winter storm. This storm could affect your safety or at the least cause inconvenience, but at this time there is uncertainty about the track and strength of the system. A watch in the summer may be issued up to six hours before the event and in the case of winter events at least 12 to 24 hours in advance. Stay tuned for updates. This is the time to develop a plan in the event that the watch is upgraded to a warning, as conditions become more certain.


Warnings alert you when severe weather is occurring or will occur. Activation of a specific warning takes into consideration local needs. Warnings are issued ideally when severe weather is expected to affect land-based communities within at least six to as much as 24 hours. Storms related to thunderstorms offer shorter advance notification and may be issued less than one hour in advance. Updated statements are reissued at least every six to eight hours or as needed, so you can stay up to date on the developing situation. More than one type of warning for a location can be in effect. Warning services are more limited or may not be available in remote or unpopulated areas. When a warning is issued it is time to put any plans into action.


   A High Stream flow Advisory means that river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.


   A Flood Watch means that river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bank full. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.


   A Flood Warning means that river levels have exceeded bank full or will exceed bank full imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.




Emergency Preparedness


Are YOU Ready?




Everyone needs to think about these things before a disaster occurs. Coping with a disaster is much more difficult and dangerous if you're not prepared. Some people don't take disaster preparedness seriously because they don't think it will ever happen to them. If it does, they assume there's nothing they can do about it. The truth is, disasters can happen any time, anywhere. The better prepared you are, the better off you'll be. Disaster preparedness isn't just a case of preparing for the worst; it's being prepared to do your best when it matters most.


During an emergency, services of all sorts could be disrupted. Stores, gas stations, etc. may be closed. Roads may be blocked and help not available for some time. You could be on your own for perhaps days. A properly prepared and maintained Emergency Supply Kit can be the key to bringing you and your family through a major disaster.


The kit should contain everything your family needs for self sufficiency for at least 72 hours. Some stores sell more or less complete kits, but they can be put together an item at a time. When assembling the food items for your home emergency kit, choose foods that:



Water is the most important item to choose. You will need 4 liters (1 gal) per person per day. Water may be purified by boiling or using bleach but bottled water is the best.


Ensure that you have your families medications, (with the Drug Identification numbers if you have to refill them) and food for your pets.



OUTDOOR SURVIVAL


The Six Survival Rules


   1. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If you move from one area to another, advise someone.


   2. Never go on an outing by yourself.


   3. Take enough food for several days for possible emergency use.


   4. Take a compass and map of the area and know how to use them. Before leaving, orient yourself to the area.


   5. Wear proper clothing and equipment. Weather conditions can change quickly.


   6. Plan you outing so that you may return to camp before dark. If you find yourself stranded/lost outdoors, you can depend on these three things: Clothing/equipment you have with you. Your ability to use whatever survival, knowledge and skills you possess. Your mental attitude - confidence in yourself, plus the desire to survive no matter how difficult circumstances may become.


STOP . . . when lost


   STOP where you are. Stop, relax and regain your composure.


   THINK - use your brain; it is your best survival tool. Make sure you have a clear head before making any decisions.


   OBSERVE your surroundings, your equipment and your physical condition. Identify the factors which most affect your possible survival and consider solutions.


   PLAN a course of action. Consider all factors, adopt a plan which best utilizes your skill, knowledge, equipment and your physical and metal state. Prevent and care for physical injuries, protect yourself from the elements (shelter and fire construction), prevent exposure, acquire water and prepare signals for attracting rescuers.



When CAUGHT in a Winter Storm...


OUTSIDE . . .


Find shelter:  Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of the body.


No shelter:

 Prepare a lean-to, wind-break, 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.

Do not eat snow: It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.


IN A CAR OR TRUCK . . .

Stay in your car or truck! Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold. Conserve vehicle fuel, run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, crack a window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. In extreme cold, use seat covers, newspapers, blankets, or extra clothing for covering - anything to provide additional insulation and warmth. Turn the dome light on so rescue teams can spot you at night, but do not run down the battery.


DO NOT SET OUT ON FOOT! Stay inside your vehicle, rescuers are most likely to find you there.

Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.


Make yourself visible to rescuers:

turn on the dome light at night when running engine. tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.

raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.

Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.


AT HOME OR IN A BUILDING . . .


ON THE FARM . . .


In the event of an evacuation . . .


After the power returns . . .








Travel In Adverse Weather Conditions


Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm!


If you don't have to go, don't - if you do - be PREPARED!


Fully check and winterize your vehicle before the winter season begins. Winterize your car before winter arrives by checking               the following:

Antifreeze - Keep engine coolant at the proper levels as this protects against freezing and corrosion. Change the coolant as recommended by the car's manufacturer.

Battery - Test to make sure it is in good working condition to provide ample power for cold winter starts. Brakes - Worn brakes require longer stopping distances and can pull the car to one side when stopping. A mechanic can check your brakes and make necessary repairs.



Carry a WINTER STORM SURVIVAL KIT in Your Vehicle



Click Here to Print List - PDF


If you MUST drive in adverse conditions, take the following precautions:









How to Prepare for a Winter Power Failure


   Freezing rain, sleet storms or high winds can damage power lines and result in outages which may last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The following precautions can reduce the harmful effects and potential damage of power failure on your home.


   Precautions:


       Install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Use only fuel-burning heaters certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Canadian Gas Association.


       Clean the flue on your wood-burning fireplace in preparation for home heating, and keep a good supply of wood on hand.


       If someone in your house relies on electrically powered life-sustaining equipment, register with your electric supply authority and your community emergency program.


Keep an emergency survival kit that consists of the following items:


   In the event of a power failure:




Storm Facts


       Environment Canada Warnings are issued ideally when severe weather is expected to affect land-based communities within at least 6 to as much as 24 hours. Storms related to thunderstorms offer shorter advance notification and may be issued less than one hour in advance.


       When shoveling after a big snowstorm, don't over exert yourself - 40cm of heavy wet snow on an average driveway weighs weighs more than 12 tonnes.


       If you suffer damage from a storm, the maximum financial assistance you may receive from the federal and provincial governments is $50,000.00. Eligible costs are determined in strict accordance with the criteria laid out in the Federal Government's Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.


       On average, the storms and cold of winter kill more than 100 Canadians every year, more than the total number of people killed by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, lightning and extreme heat combined. The most common types of winter storms cause freezing rain, heavy snow, blowing snow and blizzards.


       Driving Safety Tip: remember that a thin layer of snow offers less traction than a few centimetres.


       Safety Tip: High wind in combination with heavy rain or snow can increase the risk of tree limb breakage or trees uprooting. Check your property for dead branches. Around 60 to 70 km/h you will have difficulty with balance and walking against the wind. Twigs and small branches blow off trees.


       Safety Tip: There is a risk of frostbite in less than 10 minutes when the wind chill is near -40.



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Winter Storms . . . the Deceptive Killers