During a severe winter storm there are several things you can do to reduce your personal risk. First and foremost, you should stay indoors and out of the cold as much as possible. This may seem like an obvious point, but the casualty statistics during severe winter weather prove time and again that many people fail to heed this basic warning. If you must go out into the storm, avoid heavy physical exertion such as shoveling snow, pushing vehicles, or trying to walk long distances through deep snow. The strain from the exertion coupled with the extreme cold can cause a heart attack. In addition, heavy perspiration during extreme cold can lead to chill and hypothermia.
The Fremont County website has a weather page where you will find weather information and road and travel information for Fremont County and Wyoming. To visit CLICK HERE!
At home and at work:
The primary concerns here are the potential loss of heat, electrical power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies should the winter storm last for more than a day or two. You can prepare beforehand by storing the following supplies:
- Flashlight and batteries
- Make sure the batteries are fresh and store extras.
- Use them sparingly to conserve battery power.
- Battery-powered AM-FM radio or NOAA Weather Radio
- This may be your only link to the outside for a while.
- The more information you have about the storm, the easier it is to decide what needs to be done.
- Extra food and water
- Safe drinking water is a primary concern.
- Store high-energy foods, such as dried fruit or candy.
- Non-perishable foods which require no cooking are best.
- There are companies which sell pre-packaged food of this type.
- Extra medicine and baby items
- First Aid supplies
- Heating fuel
- Fuel carriers may not reach you for several days after a storm.
- Plenty of dry wood and kindling for the fireplace.
- Matches, lighters, or some other type of fire source.
- Emergency heating source
- Such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc.
- Learn to use these devices safely before you need them.
- Many deaths occur each year from asphyxiation due to improper ventilation or other misuse of devices intended for emergency heating.
- Fire extinguisher and smoke detector
- Test these units regularly to ensure they are working properly.
During the storm:
- If you are inside but have no heat, close off unneeded rooms. Stuff towels or rags in the cracks under the doors. Cover the windows at night.
- Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill. Sleep with a wool hat and numerous thin blankets (instead of one heavy one).
If you have to go out:
Dress to fit the weather. As mentioned above, it is better to wear several thin layers than one thick one. More layers trap air, and trapped air insulates. Add or remove layers to adjust to changes in conditions. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Always wear a hat. Half of your body heat loss can be from your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrists, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry.
Travel only during the daylight and on major roads. Do not travel alone. Let someone know your schedule and destination.
If you are caught outside in a winter storm:
Find shelter and try to stay dry. Cover all exposed parts of your body. If you have no shelter, prepare a lean-to, wind-break, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat. Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first, then drink the water.
If you are caught in a winter storm inside a vehicle:
Stay in your vehicle. Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold. Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat and open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
Do not burn anything for heat inside the vehicle. Open fires burn oxygen and give off carbon dioxide which can quickly cause asphyxiation in a closed vehicle.
Make yourself visible to rescuers. Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine. Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door. Raise the hood to indicate trouble after the snow has stopped falling. Only leave the vehicle for help if help is in sight.