Safety Measures to Take This Season
Winter Storm Landon made his appearance in the blink of an eye. For those of us in Ohio, what started as rain quickly turned to a wintry mix of rain and ice, with projected heavy snowfall as the hours inched by. In times of rapid weather changes, it’s easy to become scared, overwhelmed and unsure as to what the best safety measures are. We’re breaking down some of the best precautions to take as soon as possible, how to understand some of the meteorologists’ weather jargon and what lessons we can learn to stay prepared for the future.
Actions to Be Taken Immediately
- Stay Informed – Check your local stations every few hours. With severe weather, conditions can change in hours or even minutes. By regularly tuning into the weather updates from your phone, radio or television, you’ll always be in the know.
- Charge Electronics – Power outages are common with severe weather conditions. Do your part to keep all electronics that are necessary for your safety, especially cell phones, fully charged.
- Gather Items for Warmth – If a power outage takes place, in-home heat may become an issue. Make sure you have a large quantity of blankets and plenty of warm clothing to keep you and your loved ones as warm as possible.
- Prevent Home Damage – Take inventory of things in your home that could be open to damage or safety hazards. Prevent your pipes from freezing by letting faucets drip and opening cabinets that cover pipes to expose them to more heat. Reduce the chances of a fire by stocking up on batteries and using battery-operated candles, flashlights, etc. The more open flames, the greater the chances of a fire.
- Check Vehicles – Make sure you have a full tank of gas, or at least enough to get to a desired destination if needs dictate. Also, make sure your antifreeze tank is full. Should travel become unavoidable, you’ll want to be able to drive as safely as possible.
Understanding Meteorology Terminology
We know that an unexpected winter storm foments strong emotions and can be highly stressful. Reacting quickly to prepare is challenging enough, and being bombarded by unfamiliar phrases, terms and weather warnings doesn’t make it any easier. Below, we’re defining some of the common terms you’re likely to hear.
Common Weather Terms and What They Mean
- Wintry Mix – This term typically refers to a mixture of precipitation consisting of rain, freezing rain, snow and sleet.
- Sleet – A common term for ice pellets that can quickly put a thin layer of ice on roads.
- Winter Storm Watch – The potential for heavy snow and high levels of ice accumulation. It’s typically issued 24-48 hours before a storm.
- Winter Storm Warning – A step above a watch, a warning means imminent, hazardous weather is occurring or about to occur. Travel recommendations or restrictions are often mentioned when a winter storm warning is issued.
Be Prepared for Next Time
Unless you live in the tropics, winter storms are inevitable. There’s every possibility that there will be more before this winter is out. So, how can we plan ahead for future storms to keep ourselves and those around us safe?
Steps to Take for the Future
- Emergency Kits – Emergency kits for your house and car are essential for severe weather conditions. For your home, consider items that will keep you warm or cool, depending on the relevant weather conditions, as well as first aid items and important medications. For your car, think items necessary for changes in temperature, equipment such as a shovel or ice scraper, snacks, water, batteries, jumper cables, and traction aids such as salt or cat litter.
- Escape Plan – Should a weather situation become so severe that it requires you to leave your home, having a backup plan is crucial. Whether it entails heading to a local hotel or a relative’s house, make sure you have arrangements ready to go.
- Work or Child Responsibilities – For many of us, job and parenting responsibilities are a major factor when it comes to handling inclement weather. Think about what would be most beneficial for you, your employer or your family. Maybe it’s talking to a boss about working from home or changing work hours around the weather. For childcare providers, especially those who look after grandchildren, working out a future plan with your son or daughter will help everyone down the road.
- Stock Food Pantry and Bottled Water – Keep your pantry stocked with non-perishables and keep a few cases of bottled water on hand. Should the weather change, you’ll be confident that you can stay fed and hydrated.
- Emergency Communication Plan – Having a discussion with your family prior to a serious weather condition will give all of you peace of mind. Maybe you name someone the “communicator” to keep everyone updated as conditions change, or maybe you designate a “safety checker” who confirms safety measures are taken so you all stay prepared. Have a text or phone call communication channel and work out a plan that works best for your family.
We hope our winter storm lessons have provided you with some insight, some education and some tips for the next go around. We’re looking forward to bidding this storm farewell and saying, “Goodbye forever, Landon.”