Winter Storm Preparedness and
Winter storms are worth serious
consideration in Illinois. Blizzards, heavy snow, freezing rain and
sub-zero temperatures hit hard and frequently across the state. Even if
you think you are safe and warm at home, a winter storm can become
dangerous if the power is cut off. With a little planning, you can
protect yourself and your family from the many hazards of winter
weather, both at home and on the road.
BE AWARE OF THE FORECAST
Winter weather advisory:
Formerly called a "travelers'
advisory," this alert may be issued by the National Weather Service
for a variety of severe conditions. Weather advisories may be announced
for snow, blowing and drifting snow, freezing drizzle, freezing rain
(when less than ice storm conditions are expected), or a combination of
Winter storm watch:
Severe winter weather conditions may
affect your area (freezing rain, sleet or heavy snow may occur either
separately or in combination).
Winter storm warning.
Severe winter weather conditions are imminent.
Freezing rain or freezing drizzle.
Rain or drizzle is likely to freeze upon impact, resulting in a
coating of ice glaze on roads and all other exposed objects.
Small particles of ice, usually mixed with rain. If enough sleet
accumulates on the ground, it makes travel hazardous.
Sustained wind speeds of at least 35 miles per hour are
accompanied by considerable falling and/or blowing snow. This is the
most perilous winter storm, with visibility dangerously restricted.
A strong wind combined with a temperature slightly below freezing
can have the same chilling effect as a temperature nearly 50 degrees
lower in a calm atmosphere. The combined cooling power of the wind and
temperature on exposed flesh is called the wind-chill factor.
BE PREPARED AT HOME
- Keep a battery-powered radio and flashlights in
working order; stock extra batteries.
- Store food that can be prepared without an
electric or gas stove.
- Stock emergency water and cooking supplies.
- Have candles and matches available in case of a
- Have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel
sources may be cut off.
- Have some kind of emergency heating equipment
and fuel (a kerosene heater, a gas fireplace or wood-burning stove
or fireplace) so you can keep at least one room of your house warm
if power is cut off.
- More info at our "How
to make an Emergency Kit" page.
BE PREPARED IN YOUR CAR
Keep your car "winterized" with
antifreeze. Carry a winter car kit that includes a windshield scraper,
flashlight, candle and matches, tow chain or rope, shovel, tire chains,
blanket, extra mittens, bag of sand or salt, a fluorescent distress flag
and an emergency flare.
RIDING OUT A STORM AT HOME
If you are isolated at home, listen to the radio
or television for updates on weather conditions. Conserve fuel by
keeping your house cooler than usual and by temporarily "closing
off" heat to some rooms. When emergency heating methods must be
used, maintain adequate ventilation to avoid build-up of toxic fumes.
Dress accordingly. Layer your clothing; many
layers of thin clothing are warmer than single layers of thick clothing.
If you need to go outdoors or the heat is off indoors, wear mittens;
they are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through
the top of the head. Cover your mouth with scarves to protect your lungs
from directly inhaling extremely cold air.
If shoveling snow isn't critical, don't do it. If
you must shovel snow, take your time and lift small amounts.
Over-exertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death
during and after winter storms.
IF TRAVELING IN BAD WEATHER
- Use public transportation, if possible. Try not
to travel alone during a storm.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good operating
condition, winterized, properly serviced and equipped with snow or
all weather tires. Be sure your headlights, taillights and windows
are clean so you can see and be seen.
- Listen to your radio for weather information.
- Always fill your gas tank before entering open
country, even for short distances. You are less likely to get
stranded with a full tank. If you do get stranded, you will have
enough gas to run the motor and heat the vehicle.
- Let someone know your departure time, expected
arrival time and route.
- Seek shelter immediately if the storm seems
severe. Don't be foolhardy.
- Drive carefully and defensively. Don't try to
save time by traveling faster than road and weather conditions
- Never carry spare fuel inside the vehicle or
the trunk. Gasoline fumes can build up and cause a violent
IF STRANDED ON THE ROAD
If your vehicle becomes stalled or stopped in a
winter storm, follow these tips until help arrives.
- Keep calm and stay in your vehicle. Do not
attempt to walk out of a blizzard. You are much more likely to be
found by staying in your vehicle.
- Keep fresh air in your vehicle - especially if
you are using a candle, solid fuel or other type of heating device -
to prevent carbon monoxide build-up and oxygen starvation.
- Run motor and heater sparingly and only with
the down-wind window open for ventilation. Make sure snow has not
blocked the exhaust pipe.
- Turn on dome light at night. This helps make
the vehicle visible for work crews.
- Keep watch. Do not permit all occupants to
sleep at once.
- Exercise. Clapping hands and moving arms and
legs vigorously will help keep you awake and improve circulation.