Winter Storm Survival Tips

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A person shoveling snow on a sidewalkPiles of snow, violent winds, icy roads and freezing temperatures: We can’t control the weather. Sometimes, it’s difficult to even adequately predict it, regardless if you’re at home, at work, or somewhere in-between.

Thankfully, there are some important steps you can take to help stay safe. And warm. And dry. And calm.

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Prepare Your Home

When temperatures start declining into the single digits (and below), pipes are at risk for freezing. Frozen pipes mean no water. You can help keep your water running insulating your pipes with foam. Additionally, if freezing temperatures are predicted, let the water run in your faucets (a slow drip is fine).

Other home safety measure you can take include:

  • Prepare a list of emergency numbers and post them somewhere convenient
  • Make sure you have candles and flashlights avaiable
  • Have extra cell phone chargers on hand
  • Stock up on blankets and sleeping bags
  • Stock up on extra batteries
  • Buy a battery-operated radio
  • Buy a kerosene heater (and fuel)
  • Stock up on emergency wood (if you have a fireplace

Speaking of cell phones, here’s another tip: unless you have a battery operated cell phone charger, turn your cell phone off so you can make emergency calls, if necessary.

Work From Home

When the weather conditions are dangerous, you’re often better off just working from home. So, if it is at all possible, this may be your best winter storm safety option.

However, if you absolutely must travel to work:

  • Try to monitor the weather and travel ahead of a predicted storm
  • Stock up on food and water
  • Have a sleeping bag, pillows and blankets available
  • Bring extra clothes

Stock Up On Food & Medicine

It’s important to have at least enough food, water medical supplies and toiletry items (such as toothpaste, soap and shampoo) for every member of your household to eat for at least two weeks. Make a list of the items that everyone needs (including any pets), and try to shop for them as far in advance as possible to better avoid crowds – and empty shelves. Remember that canned and dry foods tend to be the best options (make sure you own a few can openers). You should also have several gallons of water on hand.

Additionally, to better prepare food during a power outage, you may want to invest in a camping stove, fuel canisters and a cooler (to pack with snow or ice to help keep food fresh).

Monitor Your Limbs (Especially Fingers & Toes)

Dangerous symptoms of cold weather, particularly frostbite, is a serious reality during a storm (and in cold weather conditions in general)

It should go without saying that you need to wear warm-weather clothing during winter, including gloves, a hat, thick socks, boots that protect against cold and snow, and a suitable winter coat. But it’s also very important to monitor your body, particularly your limbs, for signs of trouble.

What is frostbite? Essentially, it’s a medical condition where damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to freezing. Frostbite is most likely to happen in body parts farthest from the heart and those with large exposed areas. The initial stages of frostbite are sometimes called frostnip. After prolonged cold exposure, ice crystals form on skin cells, eventually killing them.

The two main stages of frostbite are:

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