Winter Storms: Car & Home Safety Tips

Jan 01, 2009

Provided by the Butler County Health Department

Winterizing a car includes checking: the ignition, cooling, fuel and exhaust systems, battery, lights, tires, heater, brakes, wipers, defroster and oil. Before a winter storm hits your area, fill up your car’s gas tank. A car survival kit consists of: flashlight, windshield scraper, paper towels, extra clothes, blankets, matches and candles, booster cables, a compass, maps, sand, chains and high calorie non-perishable food. Defensive Driving and Travel smart! Pump your breaks to stop on ice or snow. Plan your trip and let someone know your travel plans, route and estimated arrival time. Do NOT leave your car unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Once a storm is over, you may need to leave the car to get help. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, orient your route toward distant landmarks to maintain your sense of direction.

Buy extra water and food that requires no cooking in case of a power failure, as well as batteries for radios. Secure an adequate fuel supply before a storm hits your area. Keep blankets, clothing, curtains, furniture, and anything that might catch fire away from portable heaters. Unplug electric heaters when not in use. Never use charcoal to heat your house because it gives off deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.

During a Storm and After a Storm

  • Monitor the radio or television for current weather or emergency information and instructions.
  • Report downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
  • Dress appropriately by wearing several layers of light-weight warm clothing.
  • Look for physical damages to your home. Make sure the water is running. If there are no physical problems, wait for streets and roads to be opened before attempting to drive.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly, disabled or anyone who might need help.
  • Don’t become exhausted while shoveling snow or disposing of tree limbs. Extreme cold can cause a heart attack. The natural tendency is to do too much.
  • Frostbite occurs when the skin becomes cold enough to freeze. Warning signs are loss of feeling, a white or pale appearance in the fingers, toes, ear lobes or nose.

Hypothermia is low body temperature during long periods of cold exposure. Warning signs are disorientation, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible.

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