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Tips From Lawrence County Emergency Management

Last updated on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tips from Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency:

What to Do During a Winter Storm

Winter storm warnings are reported by local weather forecasters and can be predicted with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Winter storms can bring a lot of snow, sleet, freezing rain, sub-zero temperatures, lots of ice and even blizzards. Preparing for winter storms can be life and property saving.

The following are guidelines for what you should do during a winter storm. If you are inside:

* Stay inside! Only make trips that are necessary for survival.

* Listen to your radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information.

* Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

* Use proper safeguards when using fireplaces, space heaters, etc., to prevent accidental fires.

* When you do not have heat (i.e., a power outage) close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels under doors and cover windows.

* Maintain ventilations when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

* Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal.
If you are outside:

* People, pets and livestock are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia during winter storms; signs of frostbite and hypothermia include numbness, drowsiness, shivering, stumbling, slurred speech and a pale appearance.

* Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.

* Remove wet clothing. Working up a sweat trying to dislodge a vehicle can cause hypothermia if you do not change into dry clothing.

* Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extremely cold air.

* Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing instead of a single thick layer. Wear mittens instead of gloves.

With snow and high winds in the forecast for much of the state starting overnight Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is encouraging all motorists to check the statewide travel advisory map before venturing onto roadways.

The map is continually updated with travel advisory information as reported by each county. The map is available at http://www.in.gov/dhs/files/travel-advisory-map/. The map is updated with information from counties and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory and caution.

The page also has links to the Indiana Department of Transportation's Traffic Wise information.

Travel Advisories

A travel advisory is notification that road conditions are hazardous and will impede motorists' ability to travel. A travel advisory at a "warning" level means the general public is stay off the roadways to keep routes clear for emergency personnel. Under a "watch" level, road conditions are still dangerous, and only essential travel is recommended.

Windy Conditions

The National Weather Service has forecasted gusts of up to 40 mph. Periods of moderate to heavy precipitation along with high winds can cause poor visibility and difficult travel conditions.

Those traveling in high-profile vehicles such as trucks, vans, sport utility vehicles, or towing a trailer should take extra care, as these are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high winds.

Hoosiers should also consider bringing holiday decorations, such as inflatable displays, inside.

Winter Driving Safety

Those considering going out onto the roads should check the weather forecast and traffic information before leaving. IDHS also recommends carrying a small disaster kit with blankets, extra water, a small shovel and other items which may be helpful if you find yourself in trouble on the road.

If you become stranded:

Do not leave your car, it is the best protection you have.
Keep the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen (remember to keep the windows cracked).
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see.
Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour too stay warm. Remember, an idling car uses only one gallon of gas per hour.
Keep the exhaust pipe free of blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
For more information on winter travel safety, visit getprepared.in.gov.

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