Be Prepared for That Winter Storm
Preparing for a winter storm is more than stocking up on bread and milk. What should you be doing to prepare and to make sure your family is safe?
- Know where you are going to go for updated weather information. Whether it's a NOAA weather radio, local media, or the internet, it's important to check back to a trusted source frequently for updates on the weather, county travel advisories and local road conditions. Monitor local conditions either via local news outlets or the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Make sure you have enough medications on hand to last for the duration of the storm. Road conditions could make it difficult to leave your home for prescription refills or other medical needs.
- Ask your supervisor if you need to make arrangements to stay over either before your shift or after due to the weather. If you plan to stay over, bring a change of clothes, any maintenance medications you take, and toiletries.
- Make arrangements for child care or care for a parent you are caring for.
- Make sure your gas tank is full, and that you have plenty of groceries on hand to last at least three days.
- Make sure you have enough pet supplies to last the duration of the storm.
- Make sure you are prepared for power failures with extra batteries for flashlights and your weather radio.
Talk the Talk
- A Winter Storm Watch means that severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow or ice, may affect your area, but where, when and how much is still uncertain. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues a watch to provide 12 to 36 hours of notice of possible severe winter weather. A watch is intended to provide enough lead time for you to prepare.
- A Winter Storm Warning is issued when the NWS forecasts four or more inches of snow or sleet in the next 12 hours, six or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accumulation.
- Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening.
- A Blizzard Warning lets you know that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill.
- Ice Storms are dangerous. Heavy accumulations of ice can bring down trees and topple utility poles and communication towers. Ice can disrupt communications and power for days while utility companies repair extensive damage. Even small accumulations of ice can be extremely dangerous to motorists and pedestrians. Bridges and overpasses are particularly dangerous because they freeze before other surfaces. How much ice causes damage? Check out this site to learn more: http://www.spia-index.com/
- A Travel Advisory is the lowest level of local travel advisory in Indiana and it means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation, and individuals should use caution or avoid these areas.
- A Travel Watch in Indiana means that conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. During a "watch" local travel advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended, and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.
- A Travel Warning is the highest level of local travel advisory in Indiana and means that travel may be restricted to emergency management workers only. During a "warning" local travel advisory, individuals are directed to:
- Refrain from all travel.
- Comply with necessary emergency measures.
- Cooperate with public officials and disaster services forces in executing emergency operations plans.
- Obey and comply with the lawful directions of properly identified officers.
Be sure to listen carefully to the radio, television and NOAA Weather Radio for the latest winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories.
Have to get out on the roads? Check out these tips on safe travel.
By Diana M. Leonard, MS, CHSP, CHEP
Emergency Management Coordinator, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel