With the first winter storm of the season a possibility for much of the Western and Central New York Region during the upcoming weekend, the American Red Cross offers the following reminders to help people stay safe this winter:
· Stay alert to changing weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for winter weather alerts and warnings. The app’s Winter Storm section contains expert advice for what to do before, during and after winter storms.
· Get an emergency kit ready now. Include three days of food and nonperishable water for each person in the home. Don’t forget a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand crank radio to stay informed about the storm, medications and medical items, extra cash, cell phones and chargers, baby supplies and warm clothing for everyone.
WINTER DRIVING: The Red Cross encourages everyone to stay off the road if possible. If you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips:
· Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help see.
· Before leaving, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
· Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
· 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.
· Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
· Don’t run the engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t die.
· If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
COLD SAFETY TIPS
· Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm.
· Be extremely careful shoveling snow. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
· 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.
Learn how to treat cold weather related emergencies by downloading the free Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps.
· 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.
HOME FIRES, SPACE HEATERS
· Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
· Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
· Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. Connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
More information about winter safety is available at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.