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Be Red Cross Ready for Winter Storm

The Connecticut Red Cross offers tips to stay safe and warm during a storm.

The American Red Cross isn’t taking any chances with a snowstorm forecast to hit much of the state Saturday.

“We plan ahead and prepare throughout the year so we can be ready when needed,” said American Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman. “Thanks to the many volunteers who give of their time, we will be ready if needed.”

Shipman said the Red Cross regularly works with state and local government to coordinate planning and response efforts and will be ready to do so if any special responses are needed during the storm.

Shipman said that, just as the Red Cross is preparing, residents can take steps ahead of the storm. “Be prepared before the storm and follow some basic tips to stay safe,” he said.

“Avoid unnecessary travel. If you must travel, take it slow and easy to avoid accidents. Drivers of all-wheel-drive vehicles should remember that they can’t stop any faster than people in two-wheel-drive vehicles. Allow plenty of room between you and the car in front of you.”

Shipman also urged people to thoroughly clear snow from their vehicles. “Snow blowing off a hood while driving can blind you and frozen chunks of snow blowing off the roofs and trunks of cars can shatter windshields if it blows off onto following vehicles,” he said. 

In addition to hazardous driving, this storm is likely to increase the risk of power outages, as heavy ice and snow weigh down power lines and trees that are still in nearly full leaf coverage. “Power outages can be hazardous, especially in cold weather,” Shipman said “Preparing ahead of time will help you and your family get through a storm as safely as possible.”

The recent experience of extended outages after Tropical Storm Irene should remind Connecticut residents of the importance of being prepared with appropriate non-perishable food, water, batteries and a portable radio, Shipman added.

“Don’t forget to charge your mobile phone ahead of the storm,” he said. “You may need that phone to contact someone if the power is out.”

Storm Safety Tips

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person's body at an accelerated rate, driving down body temperature.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
  • Use caution shoveling snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must...

o   Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk (information on kits is at end of release).

o   Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.

o   Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

What to do in a power outage:

  • Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting; never use candles
  • Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer unnecessarily to preserve food
  • DO NOT run a generator inside a home or garage
  • If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. DO NOT connect a generator to a home’s electrical system – that’s a job for a professional electrician.
  • Keep tuned to local radio, television and Patch for updated information

Tips on staying warm during an outage:

  • Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
  • Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
  • Dress in warm layers so you can remove items if you get too warm.
  • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

More information about storm safety and about disaster supplies kits is available at www.ctredcross.org.

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