American Red Cross urges Rock River Valley residents to get ready for winter weather

From press release

Now that
Old Man Winter

has finally arrived, the Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross recommends taking a few steps that will help you stay safe and prepared throughout the season.

Winter storms can knock down power lines, make travel difficult because of icy road conditions and keep people isolated in their homes for several days,

said Emergency Services Director Dave Pattengale.
That’s why now is the perfect time to get ready before severe winter weather hits our area.

The Red Cross recommends stocking up on easy-to-prepare foods, medications for family members, diapers, baby formula, pet food, extra batteries for flashlights, and hygiene items like toilet paper and tissues. Make sure you have enough wood or coal for fireplaces or coal-burning stoves. Also, the Red Cross offers the following ideas to help stay safe during winter storms:

Tips for staying safe at home

Be careful with candles—do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.

Don’t use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement or garage. Locate units away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

Prevent frozen pipes—when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing. Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.

Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

If you plan on using a fireplace to stay warm, keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a lit fire unattended.

If using a space heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely use the heater. Place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from your space heater, and do not use it to dry wet clothing.

Check on your animals and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or obstacles. If possible, bring them indoors.

Tips for protecting yourself

while outdoors and traveling

When possible, stay indoors during the storm.

Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks and stairs.

Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.

Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.

Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.

If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks, stay hydrated and avoid overexertion.

Minimize travel whenever possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle with extra food and blankets.

Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.

Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

Visit for more information how to keep safe and prepared for any emergency.

From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue

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