Staying Safe as the Weather Turns Cold
Posted on 11/08/2022

November has begun, and now is the time to get your ice melt, snow shovels and heaters. These items will be gone like hotcakes in the next 30 days. Preparing for winter weather now is essential because when a winter storm hits (blizzards, freezing rain, snow, ice, high winds, or even frost), it's important to have your supplies and a plan in place to keep you and your family safe.   

Winter storms increase the risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion so it's important to be as prepared as possible. (Ready.gov) 

WINTER WEATHER TERMS 

It's first important to understand what weather watches and warnings mean. These are terms that you may hear on the news, radio or through emergency systems like the National Weather Service (NWS).     

Winter Storm Advisory: 

  •  BE AWARE: Potentially dangerous winter weather is expected or is occurring.   
  •   Usually, issues for accumulations of snow, freezing rain/drizzle, and sleet could lead to life-threatening situations, so it's important to be cautious.
  •  Travel difficulties are expected.   
Winter Storm Watch:
  •  WATCH OUT: Winter weather could happen, and the conditions for a storm are in place and could become a threat.
  • They are issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm (e.g., blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet).
  •  Serious travel problems are expected.    

Winter Storm Warning: 

  •  TAKE ACTION: Winter weather is happening or is affecting a specific area.   
  •   Issued 12 to 48 hours before hazardous winter weather is expected (e.g., heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet).
  •  Do not travel as conditions can be extremely dangerous (e.g., whiteout conditions).   

Sign up for Winter Weather Updates:    

Both Benton County and Franklin County Emergency Management use a system called Code Red to inform Residents of any natural disasters and significant events that may occur in our area. You can choose from several different contact methods (text, email and/or phone call) and can add multiple numbers. This is helpful for residents with multiple numbers (landline, cell and/or business line) and those who want to add their family's contact information to their accounts.  

  

We encourage all residents to sign up for Code Red to alert them when an emergency notification is issued in their area. This is a free service to all Benton and Franklin County residents: 

PREPARE FOR WINTER WEATHER   

VIDEO: How to prepare for a winter storm (FEMA)   

PROTECT YOUR HOME
  •  Buy your salt, ice melt and heaters now. 
  • Check insulation, caulking and weather stripping to keep the cold out.  
  • Check your home's pipes, AC/Heaters, and ensure things are in working condition. 
  • Learn how to keep pipes from freezing this winter.
  • Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. 
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning: only use generators and grills outside and away from windows.  
  • NEVER use your stove for warmth or your generator. (NEVER bring a generator indoors) 
  • Check that your personal space heaters are working appropriately. (Check that there are no strange smells and that the wires are in good condition.) Keep individual heaters 6 feet away from anything flammable, and always turn them off when you leave the room.  
  • Have a plan to check up on your homebound seniors and neighbors and ensure they have food and water for emergencies. 
  • Create an At-Home Emergency Kit:
    • Gather supplies if you need to stay home for several days without power.
    • Make sure you have each person's needs in mind, like specific medications, foods, or even entertainment for your children.  
    • Have extra pet supplies on hand.
    • Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights

DRIVING SAFELY 

  •  Always Buckle Up.
  •  Have your phone charged.
  •  Make sure someone at your destination knows the route you are planning to take and when you may arrive.
  •  Pack extra diapers in case you are traveling with children.
  •  Have your snow tires checked/replaced this month (November). 
  •  Have your car battery checked because the cold also does a number on car batteries. 
  • Consider buying snow cleats if you need to get out of the car.  
  • Always keep a full tank of gas.  
  • Give yourself extra time in the morning, as ice is more likely to occur now.
  • Keep car exhaust pipes clear of packed snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  •  Check your local weather every time you travel, especially over Mountain Passes.

What to do if you're stuck on the road (FEMA)

  • Create a Vehicle Emergency Kit:
    • Carry a sleeping bag/wool blanket in your vehicle if you break down.  
    • Carry road flares, hazard lights, jumper cables and an extra set of batteries for your lights.  
    • Put a headlamp/flashlight in your car that is easily accessible.  
    • Add an extra set of mittens, gloves, winter boots, hats and thick jackets for each of your family members.  
    • Carry kitty litter or sand for traction in the event you get stuck.  
    • Have unperishable food, water, emergency medication and a first aid kit in your car.   
    • If you are traveling with pets, make sure you have some food for them.   
    • If you have little children, it's always good to have some entertainment, either a coloring book or some activity that will keep them occupied and calm.

VIDEO: What to do during a blizzard (FEMA)  

OVERALL HEALTH  

It's a good idea to limit your time outside and wear several layers if you do need to go outside. Reduce any risk of a heart attack by taking breaks when shoveling and not overexerting yourself when walking in the snow.  

  

Learn the Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia:  

CDC Weather Safety Tips  

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: