Winter officially started Sunday, Dec. 22. But this week we were blessed with the first rumbles of winter weather. Did you remember all the things you were supposed to do to prepare for the change of seasons? Or has the drought made you wonder if you would ever see winter again?
A check of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website can provide quite a bit of wisdom for winter.
Timely preparation, including preparing your home and belongings, can help reduce the impact of severe winter weather. What follows are measures experts agree are effective in dealing with the challenges of severe winter weather:
- Store drinking water, first aid kit, canned and no-cook food, nonelectric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where they can be easily retrieved, even in the dark.
- Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency kit in each.
- Get a NOAA Weather Radio to monitor severe weather.
- Know how the public is warned about severe weather and know what the terms for each kind of disaster means:
- winter storm watch -- be alert, a storm is likely
- winter storm warning -- take action, the storm is in or entering the area
- blizzard warning -- snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill, seek refuge immediately
- winter weather advisory -- winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists
- frost/freeze warning -- below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops or fruit trees
- flash flood or flood watch -- be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice
- flash flood warning -- a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself because you may have only seconds
- flood warning -- flooding has been reported or is imminent, take necessary precautions at once.
- Know safe routes from home, work and school to high ground.
- Know how to contact other household members through a common out-of-state contact in the event you have to evacuate and become separated.
- Know how to turn off gas, electric power and water before evacuating.
- Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
- Keep plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags and hand tools on hand and accessible.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and check structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from an accumulation of snow, or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.