Winter Prep: Simple Steps to Stay Safe

Blizzards, ice storms, Nor’easters and freezing cold ­ winter can be a killer. The season can have a huge impact on travel, schools, businesses and health. Just look at what happened to Buffalo recently, where people were trapped at home and in their cars due to snow measured by the foot. Or the Thanksgiving Nor’easter that disrupted the busiest travel day of the year and left more than 400,000 people without power in the northeast. Don’t let winter hazards catch you unprepared. Follow these simple steps from the National Weather Service to stay safe this winter:

1. Know your risk

Check the forecast at weather.gov before you leave the house. Familiarize yourself with winter watches, warnings and advisories so you know what to do when the National Weather Service issues one for your area.

2. Take Action

Make sure you have an emergency supplies kit in both your home and car. If possible, avoid leaving your home if hazardous winter weather is approaching. If you must leave, make sure you are dressed for the elements and that your mobile phone is fully charged. If it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s also too cold for pets. Make sure to provide a warm, dry place for any animals that typically stay outdoors.

To learn more about cold weather health dangers, like frostbite and hypothermia download the free Red Cross First Aid app (a 99¢ Red Cross Pet First Aid app is also available!)

3. Be A Force of Nature

Set an example and others will follow. Take to social media to post about approaching hazardous weather and tell your family and friends how you are preparing (on Twitter use #WinterPrep). Call friends, family and neighbors to alert them to dangers and encourage them to get ready for the storm. After the storm passes, check on your loved ones and neighbors. Offer assistance where you can, especially to the elderly who are particularly vulnerable. Be a Force of Nature in your hometown. Winter weather can be deadly. But with a few simple steps, you can stay safe.

Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

In July of 2013, the Red Cross responded to flooding in Barberton, OH.

In July of 2013, the Red Cross responded to flooding in Barberton, OH.

This year, why not take the time to learn how to prepare for severe weather during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. This is especially evident during the threat of severe weather. The deadliest and most destructive tornado of 2013, an EF-5 on May 20 in Moore, Oklahoma and caused more than $2 billion in property damage. Even though severe weather was anticipated days in advance, many in the impacted areas said they did not have a plan and were caught unprepared.

While spring tends to produce more tornadoes, they’re not uncommon in fall. On Nov. 17, a late season tornado outbreak that struck seven Midwestern states became the most active tornado day of 2013 with a total of 74 tornadoes.

Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. This is especially evident during the threat of severe weather. The Moore Oklahoma ESF 5 tornado is estimated to have caused about $2 billion in property damage. In November 2013 alone, at least 70 tornadoes spanned seven Midwestern states.

Severe weather could happen at any time, anywhere. Even though the Oklahoma tornado outbreak was forecasted for days in advance, and warning lead times for the tornado outbreak averaged nearly 20 minutes, there were still many people in the impacted areas that stated they were unprepared.

Here is what we can do to prepare:

Knowing your risk, taking action and being an example by sharing your knowledge and actions with your social network are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared and save your life and others.

Know Your Risk: Hurricanes, tornadoes, storms – every state in the United States experiences severe weather. Download our Hurricane or Tornado app to receive real time alerts for your location. Also, visit weather.gov to get the latest on weather threats.

Take Action: Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and learning about Wireless Emergency Alerts. Download the Red Cross First Aid app or natural disaster related apps (like the Tornado app) to learn more about preparing for and responding during a storm. To learn more about taking action, participate in a local event on April 30 through America’s PrepareAthon.

Be an Example: Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.

Learn more at www.redcross.org, www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather or the Spanish-language web site http://www.listo.gov. We also regularly post weather related stories to our chapter Facebook pages and through @neoredcross on Twitter. Follow the National Weather Service @nws and FEMA @readygov