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Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Nearly all Americans, depending of where they live, are likely to encounter some type of harsh winter weather at some point. Winter storms vary in their severity from year to year. They can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for many days. Lots winter storms include very low temperatures as well as strong winds, ice, sleet, and freezing rain.

One of the major problems is the ability of severe winter weather to knock out heat, power, and communications services for many day to your home or work place. Deep snow and freezing weather can immobilize an entire area.

The National Weather Service says that winter storms are “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People can die in traffic accidents on slippery roads or from hypothermia because of long exposure to the cold. It is very important to be ready for winter weather before it hits.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for winter storms.

You should have a winter weather emergency kit that contains:

Be sure to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service. Keep yourself aware of changing weather conditions.

Don't travel if you can avoid it. If you must, carry an emergency supply kit in your vehicle.

If you have pets or other animals that you care for, be sure to provide for their needs during cold weather. Bring small pets inside and move livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Winterize your home before winter weather gets bad.

You will want to check and add insulation to walls, floors, and attics.

For windows and doors, caulk and weather strip them to keep moisture from getting in and heat from escaping. It is a good idea to install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.

Insulate your water pipes that are exposed to the outside and also hot water pipes to lessen heat loss. When temperatures are below freezing, keep a faucet such as a bathtub running with a small trickle of water. This will keep your pipes from freezing by keeping the water moving. Find out and take note of where your water shut off valves are located for your home. If a pipe breaks you will need to turn the water off.

Make sure you review where all your fire extinguishers are located and make sure everyone in your family knows how to use them. Risk of house fires goes up when people use alternate lighting and heating methods.

Clean out your rain gutters, repair any roof leaks on your home and sheds, and cover any outside hose bibs (water faucets).

Prune back any tree limbs that are hanging over your home to protect against them falling from snow or ice.

Be careful of carbon monoxide exposure. Don't use a generator, grill, charcoal burning devices, or most propane or natural gas heaters inside your home. Install carbon monoxide alarms just outside sleeping areas and in a central location of your home.

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