During snowstorm or blizzard, it is imperative to know the differences between watches and warnings in order to properly prepare or take the appropriate actions and stay safe.
Before any sort of wintry weather, a winter storm survival kit should be kept in a secure place in case of emergency. These kits should contain everything from blankets to flashlights with extra batteries, non-perishable food, waterproof matches, a shovel and windshield scraper, a tool kit, jumper cables, a water container, road maps and flares.
Winter Storm or Blizzard Watch
A winter storm watch is issued when wintry weather conditions are expected in the next 12 to 48 hours. This watch can be upgraded to a blizzard watch when snow and wind gusts of at least 35 mph will drop visibility to less than a quarter mile for three hours or longer.
To stay safe during this winter storm situation it is important that the necessary precautions are taken prior to the storm’s arrival. See the lists below, ordered by possible locations, to make sure your adequately prepared.
At Home or Work:
- Working flashlight
- A charged cell phone
- Battery powered radio or television
- Extra food, water and medicine
- First Aid Supplies
- Heating fuel (or turn up the heat prior to the storm if your house uses electrical heat)
- Emergency heating source
- Fire extinguishers
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
On a Farm:
- Move all animals to an enclosed shelter
- Bring extra feed to nearby feeding areas
- Have an extra water supply easily available
In a Vehicle:
- Full or near full gas tank
- Let a friend or relative know your predicted arrival time
- A charged cell phone
- Extra food and water
- Extra gasoline for emergency fuel
Winter Storm or Blizzard Warning
A winter storm or blizzard warning is more timely than just a watch. While the classifications for conditions are the same as a winter storm watch, a warning means that these conditions are expected within the next 12 hours or sooner.
When a winter storm warning is issued there is little or no time for preparations and as a result, safety is harder to ensure. See the tips below on what to do depending on your location during the warning.
At Home or in a Building:
- Stay inside
- Close off unneeded rooms to save heat
- Stuff towels or rags in cracks underneath doors to conserve heat
- Cover the windows at night
- Eat and drink to prevent dehydration
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight and warm clothing
If Caught Outside:
- Find a dry shelter immediately
- Cover all exposed body parts
If Caught Outdoors Without Shelter:
- Prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow-cave for protection against the wind
- Build a fire for heat and attention purposes
- Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect the heat 4. Do not eat snow straight off the ground, melt it first.
If Stranded in a Vehicle:
- Stay inside your vehicle
- Run the motor for ten minutes each hour
- Crack the windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
- Tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door
- Raise the hood after the snow stops falling
- Exercise to keep warm and keep your blood flowing