KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Over the past several years much of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska have suffered from the affects of major winter storms. Ice storms in the past two years have downed hundreds of miles of power lines in the central Plains and Midwest and significant snows have stranded farmers and livestock from Kansas to Nebraska. In preparation for the upcoming winter season, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local officials are encouraging residents to prepare for winter storms before they happen.
Citizens should familiarize themselves with terms related to winter weather hazards.
- A Winter Storm Watch is issued when hazardous winter weather is expected within 36 hours.
- A Winter Storm Warning is issued when hazardous winter weather is expected within 12 to 24 hours.
Develop a family disaster plan or modify an existing plan to account for winter weather related hazards. Understand the winter weather-related risks in your area; different areas have different risks associated with winter storms.
Prepare a disaster supply kit that includes essential food, water, and other supplies for at least three days. Include food that can be prepared without cooking in case of power failure. Special consideration should also be given to winter weather situations. Items such as rock salt and snow shovels for snow and ice removal should be included.
Winterize homes and vehicles.
For homes: Make sure walls and attics are insulated well. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic to extend the life of your fuel supply.
Ensure an alternate fuel source is available such as firewood or a generator. Operate generators and other alternative fuel-sources under manufacturer's guidelines.
For cars: Put together a separate disaster supply kit for your vehicle which includes a blanket, battery-operated radio, snacks, jumper cables, and a small shovel. If possible, maintain a full tank of gas when driving during winter weather. Make sure anti-freeze levels are correct and the battery and ignition systems, heater and defrost, and windshield wipers are functioning properly.
During a winter storm, listen to NOAA Weather Radio or monitor local media outlets for storm information such as shelter locations, power outage details, and other important information.
At home, consider lowering the thermostat or closing off sections of the house to conserve fuel. If you must go out, dress appropriately to reduce the threat of hypothermia or frostbite. Avoid overexertion during snow removal or while walking in deep snow.
Avoid traveling if possible. Seventy percent of winter storm-related deaths are related to traffic crashes on ice or snow covered roads.
For more winter storm-related safety tips, citizens are encouraged to visit the following Internet websites:
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.