Cold snaps and heat waves can be as challenging and as deadly as any other natural disaster. You can best weather these times through pre-season preparation and the right know-how.
Preparing for a Winter Storm
- Stock up on food, water, medicines and heating fuel
- Secure back-up heat sources, such as kerosene heaters. Never use charcoal, gas or propane heaters indoors
- Buy bags of rock salt and sand for use on icy walkways
- Weather-strip windows and doors to help seal out the cold
During and after a Winter Storm
- Conserve heating fuel by shutting off unused rooms
- Wear several layers of clothing and a hat outdoors. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs
- Don't overexert yourself while shoveling snow
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling along with paleness in tip of nose, fingers, toes and ear lobes
- Beware of hypothermia. Signs include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness, memory loss and disorientation
- Avoid driving at night or alone. Notify others of your schedule and route
If Your Vehicle Is Stranded in a Blizzard
- Pull off the road and turn on your hazard lights
- Do not start walking unless you can see a building where you can take shelter
- If no buildings are in sight, stay in your vehicle, where rescuers are more likely to find you
- Wrap yourself in blankets, or use seat covers, floor mats and maps
- Run the engine for 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a window slightly for ventilation
- Balance use of the heater and lights to conserve the battery
- If stuck in a remote location, spell out "HELP" or "SOS" with rocks or branches
Winterize Your Vehicle
- Check the wipers, battery, heater, defroster, ignition system, lights, oil and tire pressure
- Consider purchasing snow tires or chains
- Pack a winter emergency kit with a window scraper, blankets, battery-powered radio, flashlight, water, snack food, tow chain or rope, shovel and flares
Winter Weather Terms to Know
- Freezing Rain- Rain that freezes on contact with roads, trees, sidewalks, etc
- Sleet- Rain that freezes before hitting the ground
- Winter Storm Watch- A winter storm is possible in the area
- Blizzard Warning- Winds or gusts 35 miles per hour or greater, along with snow, are expected to last 3 hours or more
- Winter Storm Warning- A winter storm is occurring or will begin soon
- Frost/Freeze Warning- Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing
During a Heat Wave
- Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible and in the shade if you go outside
- If your home is not air conditioned, spend at least two hours daily at an air-conditioned mall, library or other public place
- Wear sunscreen outside, along with light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible
- Drink water regularly even if you are not thirsty. Limit alcohol, which speeds dehydration
- Never leave children or pets alone in the car
- Avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day
- Take a cool shower or bath
Summer Weather Terms to Know
- Heat Wave- Period of extreme heat, usually accompanied by high humidity.
- Heat Index- The relative humidity added to the air temperature—how hot it feels.
- Heat Cramps- Muscle pains due to exertion—the first sign of heat-related problems.
- Heat Exhaustion- A mild form of shock brought on by strenuous activity in the heat.
- Heat Stroke- A life-threatening condition occurring when the body's temperature control system shuts down. Brain damage or death can result if the body is not cooled at once.