Take Steps Now to Be Ready for Icy, Snowy Weather!
Guilford County, like much of North Carolina, has encountered unpredictable weather during the winter months. Across North Carolina earlier this year, there were four winter storms within weeks of each other that dumped inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice, causing an unprecedented number of accidents, power outages, and school cancellations. Single digit temperatures were also reported in many areas of the state.
Winters in Guilford County, like in much of the state, are unpredictable. Last year, the county had a major ice storm that knocked out power throughout the County for several days. Some power outages lasted as long as a week. In previous years, there has been rain, sleet, ice, snow, and severe storms.
“Winter storms are known as ‘deceptive killers’ as most deaths attributed to winter storms result from indirect dangers such as traffic accidents, falling trees, downed power lines, house fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning” said Guilford County Emergency Management Coordinator Zach Smith.
Smith added that deaths and injuries related to winter weather can be prevented. “I urge residents to take three simple steps to get ready for an emergency,” he said. “Having a plan, an emergency supplies kit, and access to the most up-to-date information will help keep you and your family safe this winter.”
Three Simple Steps
The first step is to write a plan, which should be a thought-out list of who to call, where to meet, and any special considerations that may need to be addressed.
Once you have a plan in place, build emergency supplies kits for your home and your car. Besides the standard items – non-perishable food and water for each person for three to seven days, medications, and important papers – you should also include rock salt, sand, snow shovels, extra warm clothes, and blankets. Ensure a flashlight, battery operated radio, extra batteries, and a first-aid kit are on hand as well.
Finally, pay attention to the weather forecast and stay informed about potential storms. All residents need to monitor changing weather conditions by listening carefully to their National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and local media outlets.
Smith reminds people that during the cold winter months, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from improper heating. The colorless, odorless carbon monoxide gas can be deadly and is produced from fuel-burning appliances, generators, and heaters. Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide fumes can accumulate causing headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. While preparing for winter weather, remember to always keep charcoal grills and portable camping equipment outdoors. Remember to keep generators away from the home. Never run a generator in the garage or other enclosed area. Also be sure to have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your home.
To prepare your home for winter weather, add insulation to walls and attics and keep an adequate supply of heating fuel on hand. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows and insulate water pipes to keep them from freezing.
Drive Safely, Use Caution
Snow and ice can cause hazardous driving conditions which leads to massive traffic delays. Keep in mind that road conditions can quickly change. When driving in winter weather, remember to:
- Reduce your speed.
- Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.
- Approach bridges and overpasses with caution since they often become icy prior to roadways. Do not push your breaks while on a bridge.
- If you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not push the brakes.
- If you need to pull off the highway, set your directional lights to “flashing”.
- Do not go out on foot unless you see a building nearby to take shelter.
- If running the engine to keep warm, crack the window open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never let everyone in the car sleep at once. One person should stay awake to watch for rescue crews. Tie a colored cloth to the antenna or door to make yourself visible.
“Weather conditions can rapidly deteriorate, so it’s important to keep calm and think clearly about what to do,” said Smith.
Guilford County has a preparedness website, ReadyGuilford.org, which can help residents get prepared for winter weather. The ReadyGuilford website is also the portal to sign up for the Guilford Emergency Alert, Notification, and Information System (GEANI). GEANI is an automated system to notify you of urgent and emergency information through your cell phone, home phone, and/or email, and is available to all residents and businesses within Guilford County. The State’s Emergency Management agency also has a free ReadyNC mobile app (available for both iPhone and Droid devices) that provides real-time traffic and weather, as well as valuable information.