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Tips For Staying Safe In Blizzard Conditions

By NWS
Published On: Jun 03 2012 10:43:46 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 22 2010 04:48:02 AM CST

What?s A Blizzard?

The term blizzard is associated with severe winter weather when strong to severe winds bring snow. frigid temperatures and visibilities near zero. Winds typically are above 30 to 40 mph and can be much higher during the strongest part of the storm. The wind combined with snow will cause extreme drifts to develop and may cause road closures and power outages.

Road Condition Information

Idaho 1-888-432-7623 OR 511 (Within Idaho) Montana 1-800-226-7623 0R 511 (Within Montana) Nevada 1-877-687-6237 OR 511 (Within Nevada) Utah 1-866-511-8824 0R 511 (Within Utah) Wyoming 1-888-996-7623 OR 511 (Within Wyoming)

Winter Safety In A Vehicle

When winter storms threaten avoid travel if at all possible. Road crews work hard to keep roads open, stuck cars only make their job harder.

A well-equipped vehicle has adequate tires tire chains tow ropes sand or cat litter for traction shovel tool kit windshield scraper and brush battery cables first aid kit flashlight extra batteries blankets or sleeping bags extra clothing water-proof matches high calorie packaged food for quick energy and an empty can to melt snow for drinking.

If you should become stranded during a winter storm stay with your vehicle and do not panic. If accompanied by others take turns sleeping. Run the motor every hour for about ten minutes to maintain warmth but keep windows open a little to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked. Keep the car visible with a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna. Exercise periodically by vigorously moving arms legs toes and fingers.

If caught outside during a winter storm find shelter immediately. Try to stay dry and cover all exposed body parts. If no shelter is available build a lean-to wind break or snow cave for protection from wind. Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat. Melt snow for drinking water. Eating snow will lower your body temperature.

In the mountains avalanches become a possibility in the winter especially below steep slopes. Avalanches occasionally come down across roads with little or no warning. Caution is advised when traveling along avalanche prone roads especially after heavy snow has fallen or during periods of rapid snowmelt.

Roads which appear to be clear in the winter time may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice commonly known as black ice. This nearly invisible ice layer can cause you to rapidly lose control of your vehicle. Black ice is most common during the nighttime hours. If you detect black ice you should reduce your speed.

Winter Safety In Your House

Make sure you have the basic preparedness items available like flashlights, food, water, first aid and medical needs. Make sure you have extra water stored in a bath tub or other containers in case the power goes out. If the power is out...be sure to properly vent any emergency heat source you use. Make sure your pets are cared for.

Winter Safety For Farms And Ranches

Try to move livestock to sheltered areas...and provide extra feed ahead of the storm. Ensure they have a way to obtain water.

Wind Chill, Frostbite And Hypothermia Safety

Wind chill is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate driving down body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill however cars plants and other objects are not.

Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. A wind chill of -20 degrees fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers toes ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help slowly rewarm affected areas. However if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia warm the body core before the extremities.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees fahrenheit. It can kill. For those who survive there are likely to be lasting kidney liver, and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering memory loss disorientation incoherence slurred speech drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the persons temperature. If below 95 degrees fahrenheit seek medical care immediately.

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