Winter Weather Awareness Week starts today
WORTHINGTON -- Ready or not, here it comes. Winter. Today marks the beginning of Winter Weather Awareness Week, and since it's probably best to be ready, Nobles County Emergency Management Direct Dan Anderson has several suggestions on what to ha...
WORTHINGTON -- Ready or not, here it comes. Winter.
Today marks the beginning of Winter Weather Awareness Week, and since it's probably best to be ready, Nobles County Emergency Management Direct Dan Anderson has several suggestions on what to have on hand in preparation for the winter weather sure to come blowing around the corner any day. Waiting until last minute, after all, could lead to the sad discovery of an empty shelf or the unwise decision to brave the elements for a needed item when travel is not advised.
Depending on who is doing the predicting, the upcoming winter will be either mild, moderate or severe, with snowfall totals being low, medium or high. One thing is for sure -- sooner or later there will be a blizzard, visibility will be zero and winter weather advisories will be broadcast asking drivers to stay off the roads. Authorities may even close roads -- a common scenario last year.
"If that is the case, it is best to keep a small bag in your car with a change of clothes," Anderson said.
Having that change of clothes eliminates the need to "have to get home." Staying in town is an easier decision.
People should make sure there is a winter survival kit in each vehicle. The kit should contain booster cables, flares or emergency lights, a blanket, snacks, warm clothing, a first aid kit, a bag of sand or kitty litter, hand warmers and a way to melt snow.
"I just keep my snow pants in my car," Anderson stated. "I can grab them out of there if I need them, then I put them back."
He has seen way too many people who think they are dressed appropriately for winter weather, only to realize that business casual clothing doesn't quite cut it during a blizzard with minus 40 degrees below wind chills after a vehicle has slid into a ditch a quarter mile from the nearest source of help.
It is also important to make sure each vehicle is prepared for winter, with a good battery and tires, sufficient antifreeze and an exhaust system free of leaks. One should never let your fuel level get too low -- the vehicle engine may be the only source of heat until help shows up.
Something Anderson would like people to keep in mind when it comes to travel advisories is that those who do not heed the warnings generally end up becoming part of the problem.
"Simply by being out when you don't need to be out, you complicate matters," he explained. "Responders have to be sent out. Vehicles are in the way when plows are trying to open the roads. Others are being put at risk. If you don't need to be out, stay home. Watch TV. Work from home."
When it comes to the home, there are also a few things that should be done to prepare for winter. Anderson said there should be a three- or four-day supply of fresh food and canned goods in the house, especially when winter storms are forecast.
"That is the one nice thing about winter storms," he said. "We generally know about them well in advance -- sometimes days -- as compared to a tornado, which happens without much warning."
It is best to prepare for an electricity loss by having the canned foods on hand, but Anderson cautions against using any kind of outdoor gas stove or open-flame heat source indoors.
"There are carbon monoxide issues," he stated.
Because of the earlier warnings, Anderson said, it is best to just keep the weather issues in mind and make a plan to get through the next few days. Having a battery-operated radio on hand is a good idea, and people should follow the winter weather warnings. The National Weather Service webpage can be accessed at www.weather.gov/siouxfalls for the closest local information.
Anderson also cautioned snowmobilers and ATV riders to be careful on the ice and on trails.
"They need to watch out for each other," he said. "Especially on the ice. Driving on the ice can be dangerous. Watch for aerator signs and use caution."
Anderson advised snowmobilers to stay away from wet areas on the ice.
"It is unwise to think you can go fast enough to go over it," he said. "We don't want to commit responders to pulling bodies out."