INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- For many, a winter storm summons thoughts of time off from school or work to spend a cozy day at home reading a book or watching television, drinking hot chocolate or making a snowman. But if you're not prepared, a winter storm could replace idyllic plans with a life- threatening disaster. State and federal officials remind Hoosiers during this week of Winter Storm Preparedness to finalize their plans to meet the challenges of a potential winter storm emergency.
Winter storm dangers can be deceiving.
The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the ?Deceptive Killers? because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm ? in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.
To stay safe from these potential deceptive killers during the approaching months, prepare a disaster supplies kit and a family communications plan; know how to prepare your home against the cold; learn what winter storm watches and warnings mean and, if stranded in your car away from home, know what steps to take.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offer some specifics on winter storm preparedness.
- Assemble an emergency supply kit with:
- Non-perishable food;
- Water ? enough for three days;
- A battery -powered or hand-cranked radio;
- Flashlights and batteries;
- Rock salt to melt ice on walkways;
- Sand to improve traction;
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
- Extra blankets , gloves , and warm clothing
- Make a family plan to include:
- How to contact one another if not together when disaster strikes because it is often easier to make long-distance calls than to call across a town affected by power outages;
- How and where to get back together.
- Prepare your home by:
- Insulating with weather striping around doors and windowsills;
- Insulating pipes with plastic or newspapers and allow water from faucets to drip a little to avoid freezing;
- Learning how to shut off water valves if a pipe bursts;
- Keeping fire extinguishers on hand and knowing how to use them;
- Hiring an expert to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain the weight of extremely heavy snow accumulation;
- Become familiar with winter weather terms :
- Winter Storm Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected;
- Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two, so finalize preparations and listen to weather radio or forecasts;
- Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin soon, so stay inside.
- If traveling by car :
- Carry an emergency supply kit;
- Keep the gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing;
- Let someone know your destination, route , and when you expect to arrive;
- If you do get stuck, stay with your car , keep the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen, tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.