Cold weather increases the need to be prepared
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
Winter weather is upon us and that means taking extra precautions to make sure everyone is prepared for an emergency.
According to the website, beready.iowa.gov, people should winterize their home before winter even hits. The website encourages people to have on hand, snow removal equipment, rock salt, kitty litter (for traction), sufficient heating fuel, make sure your walls and attic are insulated and to prevent your pipes from freezing, which means wrapping them in insulation or layers of old newspapers. Cover the newspapers in plastic to keep out moisture. The website also suggests to let faucets drip in order to prevent them from freezing.
The website also encourages people to make a winter weather supply kit, which would include these following items: flashlight, portable radio, batteries, first aid kit, three to five day supply of food, non-electric can opener, at least a week’s supply of essential medications, extra blankets and sleeping bags and a fire extinguisher.
Being prepared means making sure you have all necessary items on hand before the emergency happens.
Other ways to be prepared for a winter emergency would be to develop an emergency plan.
The website suggests that people should have a plan that everyone in the family knows, so that if they are separated, they know where to go. An out-of-town family member should serve as the family contact, because after disaster it is often easier to make long distance calls. Everyone should know the name, address and phone number of that contact.
During a winter storm, the website suggests that people should, if indoors, dress warmly, conserve heat, lower the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night, close off unused rooms and listen to the radio or TV for current information.
If you are outdoors, dress warmly in loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers create warmth when touching. Avoid overexertion as cold weather puts added strain on the heart. A final suggestion is to keep dry by changing wet clothing frequently. This is to prevent loss of body heat as wet clothing loses all of its insulating value.
In order to drive safely during winter weather, according the website, it is imperative that you are ready before you drive.
Make sure you have a mechanic check the battery, antifreeze, wipers/windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights/flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater/defroster, brakes and the oil levels. Having your car in working order before you travel is important.
Other ways to make sure your vehicle is ready to go for winter driving is to install good winter tires, maintain at least half a tank of gas at all times, listen to road conditions and upcoming weather before traveling and dress warmly.
Make sure you have in your car, flashlights with extra batteries, first aid kit, pocketknife, necessary medications, blankets/sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation, plastics bags (for sanitation), matches, extra set of mittens, socks and a wool cap, rain gear and extra clothes, small sack of sand or kitty litter to generate traction under car wheels, small shovel and other tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver), jumper cables, brightly-colored cloth (red) to use as a flag, canned fruit/nuts and non-electric can opener and bottled water.
If you get trapped in your car during a blizzard, the website suggests that you stay in the car. Do not leave to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. This is because you may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood to draw attention. Make sure you do minor exercises to keep up circulation, which means you could clap your hands and move your arms and legs. Try not to stay in one position too long, if more than one person in the car, take turns sleeping.
Avoid overexertion as well. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart so, unaccustomed exercise like snow shoveling and pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
The website also suggests to run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn the engine on for about 10 minutes each hour and run the heater and turn on the dome light while the car is running. Make sure you are aware of carbon monoxide poisoning, which means keeping the exhaust pipe clear and a window that is down wind of you slightly cracked for ventilation.
Overall, being prepared means taking precautions before you venture out into the winter weather. Following the above tips from the website, beready.iowa.gov, will help you and your family stay safe during a winter weather emergency.