By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
With Winter Storm Harper barreling down on Northeast Ohio and threatening significant snow and subzero temperatures this weekend, the American Red Cross has steps you should take to ensure you can enjoy the winter weather, while remaining safe.
HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
With wind chill this weekend potentially being as low as -30 degrees, homes all across Northeast Ohio will certainly have their heating sources working to their full potential. While it is nice to be warm and cozy inside of our homes, it is also important to heat our homes safely.
Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends your follow these steps:
- All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.
STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER
- Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
- Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
- Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
- 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. Click here for more tips to keep your four-legged friends safe this weekend.
- Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY
With Winter Storm Harper possibly bringing a foot or more of snow to Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross recommends everyone to remain safe by staying off the roads. However, if you must leave your home during the storm, here are some tips to keep you safe while you travel:
- Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
- Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
- Don’t pass snow plows.
- Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
BE RED CROSS READY
To help you and your family prepare for Winter Storm Harper, download and review the Red Cross’ winter storm safety checklist.
You can also download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps and more are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps