Red Cross urges winter storm preparation
With a second winter weather system heading toward the state, the Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross is urging residents to take steps now to stay safe when severe weather threatens.
“We are watching this storm system closely and urging everyone to have a plan for severe weather,” Red Cross Palmetto SC CEO Louise Welch Williams said. “The weather models are showing a wintery mix with freezing rain, snow, and ice for our area, so people need to prepare.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends individuals and families prepare for winter storms.
• Assemble an emergency preparedness kit: Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Make sure you have a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.
• Heed storm warnings: A winter storm watch means winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions via NOAA Weather radio, or local radio or television stations. A winter storm warning means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately.
For safe winter driving, the best thing to do during a winter storm is stay off the roads if possible. If you have to drive, the Red Cross offers these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:
• Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a disaster supply kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
• Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
• Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
• If you can, avoid driving in sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog. If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
• Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
For more information on winter storm preparedness, visit http://www.redcross.org/sc/north-charleston.