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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

Emergency officials promote winter weather awareness

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The National Weather Service (NWS) along with partners from across Kansas and Missouri have designated Thursday, Nov. 19 as Winter Weather Awareness Day in Kansas and Missouri.

"Since we are approaching the winter season, this is the perfect time for our citizens to begin getting prepared for winter snow, blizzards and freezing weather," said David Compton, Barry County Emergency Management Director.

The winter awareness campaign encourages citizens to prepare for the winter season and reminds them how to protect themselves during a severe winter storm, Compton said. A winter storm may range from moderate snow over a few hours to blizzard conditions with blinding, wind-driven snow or freezing rain that lasts for several days. The January 2007 ice storm was devasating to the Monett area. Many communities were impacted for days and weeks. Some rural residents were without electricity for weeks.

The two most important terms are "winter storm watch" and "winter storm warning", Compton said. A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect the area. A winter storm warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately.

"Every resident needs to have a 72-hour kit in their home," said Compton. "That kit should include food, water, medications and other basic essentials that might be needed to remain in their homes for up to three days without power."

Prior to a winter weather storm local residents should consider securing an alternate fuel source, such as firewood or a generator, insulating attics and windows, purchasing snow shovels, rock salt and

sand for homes and cars and filling each vehicle's gas tank.

FEMA offers the following tips for dealing with winter emergencies:

* Listen to weather updates on the weather radio, local radio stations or local television networks.

* Eat regularly and drink plenty of water, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

* Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Inidivudals who must shovel snow should stretch before going outdoors.

* Be alert to signs of frostbite, which can include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose.

* Watch for signs of hypothermia, such as uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion. Individuals experiencing hypothermia should be moved to a warm location, and the center of their body should be warmed first.

* Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, a hat and a scarf to protect the lungs.

* Conserve fuel by keeping the residence cooler than normal and temporarily closing off heat to some rooms.

* Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters, which should be placed at least three feet from flamable objects. Refuel heaters outside.

* Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be water repellent.

"During the winter, you should also maintain an emergency kit in your car," said Compton. "This kit should have food, water and anything else that might be needed to sustain you for a day or two if

you are stranded on a rural road.

"Blankets should be packed to help keep you warm in your vehicle," said Compton. "Many people utilize the car heat as long as they can, but this can cause carbon monoxide poisoning."

Vehicles should be winterized before extreme winter weather begins to impact the local area. The following items should be checked: battery and terminals; ignition system; antifreeze; heater and defroster; windshield wipers and fluid; thermostat; driving and hazard lights; exhaust system; brakes and brake fluid; oil; tires; and fuel and air filters.

If you must travel during a winter storm, stay on the main roads, keep speed down on ice even if the vehicle has four-wheel drive and make sure the car safety kit is easily accessible.

If trapped in a vehicle during a winter storm, individuals should:

* Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.

* Remain in the vehicle to be easily located by rescuers.

* Use the car engine and heater around 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.

* Exercise to maintain body heat but avoid overexertion.

* Take turns sleeping.

* Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

* Turn on the vehicle's inside light at night to signal rescuers.

"Traditionally in southwest Missouri we can see significant snow as early as the end of October," said Compton. "Winter weather awareness should begin in October and last through March or even as late as April.

"Residents should begin preparing for winter weather when they start making their holiday prepartions," said Compton. "I like to tell people that when they begin to put up their Christmas decorations it is time to start preparing for winter weather."



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