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Handling Extreme Winter Weather
So far, many parts of the United States have seen extreme winter weather, and the winter is far from over. If severe cold or heavy snow are predicted, follow these tips from the Department of Homeland Security to keep safe.
Before the bad weather hits, you should have taken basic steps to winterize your house. Have your furnace and fireplace inspected, stop air leaks around doors and windows, know how to shut off the water in case the pipes freeze, and make a family communication plan so that you can reach everyone in case of an emergency.
Then stock up on emergency supplies. You will need at least a three-day supply of food, water, essential medications, and items such as formula and diapers, if needed. Have access to firewood if you have a fireplace. If you have a generator, make sure it is ready to go. Gather blankets, flashlights, a first aid kit and a battery-powered radio. Make sure your cell phones are charged, and consider getting a backup phone charger.
When the storm hits, stay inside if at all possible. If you go outside, dress in multiple layers and minimize your time in the cold. If you shovel snow, take it slow. Too much exertion when shoveling can cause a heart attack, and emergency vehicles could have trouble getting through. When you come inside, remove any wet clothes immediately.
You should have had your car winterized before the season began. Make sure you have tires that are appropriate for bad weather and windshield wipers that work, and keep your gas tank full. Put a weather emergency kit in your trunk that contains sand for traction, ice scrapers, extra blankets and flashlights with new batteries. Keep your phone charged, and consider getting a backup phone charger.
As much as possible, stay off the roads in bad weather. If you must drive, stick to the main roads, which are more likely to be plowed and treated. Remember that even if you are a good driver in the snow, other people on the road might not be.
If you are on the road when the storm hits, follow these winter driving tips from AAA:
Wear your seatbelt.
Drive slowly. You probably will be dealing with decreased visibility and slippery pavement.
Leave extra space between you and the car ahead of you. Don’t slam on your brakes; keep your heel on the floor, and apply steady pressure with the ball of your foot.
Don’t stop unless it's absolutely necessary, because stopping increases the chance that you will not get traction when you try to move again. In particular, try to avoid stopping when going up a hill.
If your car gets stuck in the snow, don’t leave it unless you can clearly see lights of a home or business where you know there will be people; it is easy to get lost in a snowstorm. Use your phone to call for help, and tie a bright-colored cloth to your antenna or put it out your window to alert searchers. Make sure your exhaust pipe is not clogged. Then you can run the engine for brief periods to warm up the car.