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Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management reminds residents about preparing for extreme winter weather

By Staff | Dec 12, 2014

With the winter season rapidly approaching, Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management (JCHSEM) is encouraging all residents of Jefferson County to be prepared for winter storms and extreme cold.

It is essential to know the terms used to describe changing winter weather conditions as they impact what actions you must to take to stay safe. These terms can be used to determine the timeline and severity of an approaching storm. (Advisory / Watch / Warning). The NWS also issues advisories and warnings for other winter weather, including blizzards, freezes, wind chill, lake effect snow, and dense fog. Be alert to weather reports and tune in for specific guidance when these conditions develop.

Freezing Rain- Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.

Sleet- Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

Wind Chill- Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. The NWS provides a Windchill Chart to show the difference between air temperature and the perceived temperature and the amount of time until frostbite occurs. For more information, visit: www.nws.noaa.gov/om/windchill.

Winter Weather Advisory- Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening. The NWS issues a winter weather advisory when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.

Winter Storm Watch- A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, TV, or other news sources for more information. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.

Winter Storm Warning- A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.

Blizzard Warning- Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

Frost/Freeze Warning- Below freezing temperatures are expected.

Before severe weather occurs, it is always a great idea to ensure an emergency preparedness kit is fully stocked. During a winter storm, one needs to be prepared for not having power, water or heat for several days. To prepare an emergency preparedness kit include the following:

WATER Ensure there is at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. (Store a longer than 3-day supply of water, if possible). An average person needs to drink about 3/4 of a gallon of fluid daily. Individual needs vary depending on age, gender, health, level of activity, food choices, and climate. You may also need stored water for food preparation.

FOOD Store at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food for members of the household, including pets. Consider special dietary needs (e.g., infant formula). Include a non-electric can opener for canned food

FLASHLIGHT, RADIO, and CELL PHONE CHARGER One will need to be able to charge these items without electricity. A flashlight and radio should be either hand-cranked or battery-powered, and stored with extra batteries. A cell phone charger should be hand-crank, solar or able to be charged from a car outlet.

MEDICAL Include first aid kit, prescription and non-prescription/over-the-counter medications and medical supplies.

SANITATION Pack supplies for sanitation, such as hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products, diapers, and plastic bags, for use when water resources are limited.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY Include battery backup power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs.

EXTRA CLOTHING, BLANKETS, and SLEEPING BAGS Dress in layers to keep warm if you lose power. Ensure there are enough clothing, hats, mittens, and blankets or sleeping bags for everyone in the house.

ITEMS FOR SNOW AND ICE Stock up on rock salt to melt ice on walkways or sand or kitty litter to improve traction and snow shovels or other snow removal equipment.

WOOD Store a supply of dry, seasoned wood if there is a working fireplace or wood-burning stove with a safe flue or vent.

Please note that this is a basic list of supplies that should be in an emergency preparedness kit. Each kit should reflect the family’s specific needs (such as access and functional needs, pets or infants). For a more suggestions on what to include in an emergency preparedness kit, please check out: www.ready.gov/kit

It is also a good idea to prepare one’s automobile and house for the winter months. Ensure the car is winterized (checking key components, fluids and safety measures) and has its own emergency preparedness kit. Ensure the home is ready for colder weather by insulating water pipes, cleaning out gutters, maintain heating equipment and chimneys, checking smoke detectors and insulating walls and attics.

Finally, before the snow starts flying, be sure to sign up for Nixle Alerts.Using the Nixle program, Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management is able to send out emergency alert notifications by text, e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. In order to sign up for these alerts, go to local.nixle.com/register or text your Jefferson County zip code to 888777 and then text JCHSEM to the same number. This is a free service.

For more emergency preparedness tips, please check out: www.ready.gov