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Are you ready for winter?

By Staff | Nov 23, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — As winter approaches, it is essential to be prepared for whatever types of weather may fall on the area. As an effort to help individuals be prepared, the Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have shared tips to make sure county residents don’t get caught unaware.

According to Brandon Vallee, public information officer for the department, the first thing to be aware of, is the type of precipitation that is coming.

“This will impact what actions you must take to be safe,” Vallee said.

According to Vallee, freezing rain is rain that freezes when it hits the ground, which then in turn creates a coating of ice. This is different from sleet that is rain, which turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground; however, sleet can also cause moisture on the roadways to freeze and become slippery.

Another confusing term, Vallee said, is wind chill. That is what the temperature outside “feels like,” as opposed to what it really is.

“The National Weather Service issues all kinds of watches and warnings that can be confusing as well,” Vallee said.

It is important to know exactly what each means, to be prepared for weather changes.

A winter weather advisory means that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences, and may be hazardous. Stepping up a notch, a winter storm watch indicates severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice may affect an area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12-to-36 hours in advance of the potential storm. A winter storm warning means a storm is or will occur, while a blizzard warning indicates sustained winds or frequent gusts of at least 35 miles-per-hour, with significant amounts of falling snow. These conditions are expected to last for three hours or longer.

The time to plan for any of these potential winter occurrences is before they happen. It is essential to be prepared in case one loses power, water or heat sources.

Basic items to sustain a family, include at least one gallon of water per-person per-day, for a three-day minimum supply. Additional water will be needed for food preparation, and a minimum three-day supply of non-perishable food items should be on hand — for both humans and their non-human friends, according to Vallee.

“Don’t forget about the pets,” Vallee said.

One should also consider special dietary needs such as baby food and infant formula. Having a hand operated can opener is suggested in case of a power outage. The same can be said for having flashlights, cell phone chargers and radios that operate on batteries as well as having a sufficient supply of batteries for each.

Individuals should be prepared with a first aid kit and over-the-counter medications as well as making sure that all prescription drugs are filled, in case travel is limited.

Extra blankets and warm clothing should be on hand. Carry some in the car, as well as having extra stocked at home, just in case a storm inhibits reaching home. Stock up on ice melt or rock salt to clear sidewalks or to provide traction. Shovels for snow removal are also something that should be readily available.