ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The first significant snowfall of the 2020-2021 winter season is on its way to the Capital Region. In advance of the winter storm expected Wednesday evening into Thursday, NEWS10 has created a list of 10 things to keep in mind while preparing.
1. Make a plan
The American Red Cross said talking over an emergency plan with the people who live in your home helps reduce fear, particularly for young children. Talk about how to limit driving, what to do if the power or heat goes out, and what to do in case of an emergency like calling 9-1-1. Pets should be kept inside.
2. Prepare the inside of your home
- Keep flashlights, other battery-powered lights, extra batteries, and blankets ready.
- Keep cell phones charged and have another way to charge them if the power goes out.
- Have foods that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked like fruit, granola/protein bars, peanut butter, and bread on hand.
- Prevent pipes from freezing by turning on every water faucet to a slow drip. The American Red Cross also has a list of ways to keep pipes from freezing.
3. Prepare the outside of your home
- If using a generator, make sure it works ahead of the storm and that there is enough fuel on hand.
- Keep vents clear of snow.
4. Know what winter weather-related words mean
- A winter storm watch is issued when “conditions are favorable” for a winter storm event whereas a winter storm warning is issued when a winter storm is expected.
- A blizzard warning is issued when wind or wind gusts 35 miles per hour or more will accompany snowfall and reduce visibility to less than a quarter-mile for three or more hours.
- A wind chill warning is issued when wind chill temperatures “reach or exceed” -25 degrees Fahrenheit for the next 12-36 hours.
5. Pay attention to local snow emergencies
Most municipalities post snow emergencies on their websites or social media.
6. Limit travel
Stay home and keep travel to emergencies only. This allows municipalities and the state to remove snow safely, more effectively.
7. Exercise care during snow removal
Cold weather can increase both heart rate and blood pressure. It can also decrease blood supply in the body because it causes arteries to constrict and can make blood clot easier. The National Safety Council offers the following advice when shoveling:
- Don’t shovel after eating or while smoking.
- Stretch before shoveling and take it slow.
- Shovel fresh, powdery snow because it’s lighter.
- Push the snow as opposed to lifting it.
- Use a small shovel or fill a shovel partially if it’s being lifted.
- When lifting snow, lift with the legs and not the back.
- Don’t work to the point of exhaustion.
- Know the signs of a heart attack! Immediately stop shoveling and call 9-1-1 if showing any symptoms of a heart attack.
8. Keep side and walkways clear
Homeowners are responsible for keeping side and walkways clear of snow and ice. Many municipalities have ordinances in place that require homeowners to clear the snow on the sidewalk in front of their residence, check with your municipality to see if there is something in place.
If you have a fire hydrant in front of your home, clear the area around it. This will make it easier for fire crews to hook up to the hydrant, saving time during an emergency.
9. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
- Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and/or color in fingers, toes, and around the face. Frostbite victims can also experience numbness and firm or waxy skin. Their skin will also turn white or grayish-yellow. People with frostbite should go to a warm room, soak in warm water, or use body heat. A heating pad or massage should not be used.
- Victims of hypothermia will have a low body temperature. Having a temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit is considered an emergency. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness. Victims should go to a warm room and warm the chest, neck, head, and groin first. They should also stay dry and be wrapped in warm blankets, including head and neck.
10. Prepare your vehicle
If you do have to travel AAA suggests waiting for road crews to clear roads. They also suggest keeping the following items in a vehicle in case of an emergency:
- Reflective vest, snow clothes, gloves, and winter boots
- Sand or cat litter
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Windshield washer fluid
AAA said drivers should avoid traveling during the peak of the storm and should stay with their vehicle if they breakdown or get stuck.