Each day this week, we'll bring you a different topic about winter weather during Winter Weather Awareness week.

Today's Topic: Be safe...during (and after) the storm

Normally when a winter storm is imminent, the National Weather Service will issue a winter storm warning or blizzard warning 6 to 18 hours before the storm strikes.

A winter storm warning means that severe winter weather such as heavy snow, significant freezing rain or heavy sleet is expected. A blizzard warning means that sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more are expected to reduce visibility at or below a quarter of a mile due to falling and/or vlowing snow for at least three hours.

The issuance of the winter storm warning is your signal to take steps necessary to keep you, your family and associated pets or animals Safe during the storm.

All unnecessary travel should be delayed until the storm is over. Seventy percent of all deaths during snow and ice storms occur in vehicles! If you get stranded in your vehicle and shelter is not visible nearby then stay with your vehicle...

  • Run the motor for about ten minutes each hour for heat. Keep the tailpipe free from snow and open the window slightly from time to time to let in fresh air.
  • Make yourself visible by turning on the dome light while the engine is running and tie a colored (red) cloth to your antenna or door.
  • Exercise occasionally by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep your blood circulating.

The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. If your regular heat source fails...

  • Use alternative heat sources such as wood stoves or space heaters, but be very careful. The incidence of fire increases when using alternative heat. Have a fire extinguisher close by.
  • Close off unneeded rooms and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Cover windows at night.
  • Eat and drink regularly to keep your body temperature up and prevent dehydration.

Provide for pets and farm animals by making sure they have shelter and plenty of food and fresh water available.

Most deaths and injuries during winter storms can be prevented! Overexertion in the cold kills many people. The heart and blood vessels constrict in cold conditions to preserve body heat. Too much exertion can cause a heart attack. No one died in ohio and northwest Pennsylvania during the "blizzard of `93" but at least six people died afterwards from shoveling snow.

When shoveling snow or doing other activities in the cold you should always set a slow pace. Take frequent breaks and warm yourself regularly.

Sweating can lead to hypothermia (low body temperature). The signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech, and drowsiness or exhaustion. If the body temperature Has dropped below 95 F seek immediate medical help.

Frostbite can also occur from exposure to the cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and usually occurs in extremities such as toes or fingers first.

When treating hypothermia or frostbite always make sure the affected area is dry and then warm it slowly using blankets! A person suffering from hypothermia must have their chest, neck and head warmed first.

When spending time outdoors in the cold wear several layers of loose- fitting, light weight, warm clothing. You can remove layers to avoid perspiration, and subsequent chill.


Information courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Cleveland.


WEB EXTRA: Get Channel 3 Weather's Winter Weather Guide (Click on the link at the bottom to download and print the guide)