WINTER WEATHER PREPAREDNESS
Before a Winter Storm Threatens...
Know the terms used by weather forecasters:
Winter Storm Watch– Be alert, a winter storm is likely in your area. Tune to radio or television for more information.
Winter Storm Warning– Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.
Blizzard Warning– Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately.
Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
Freezing Rain– Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on road, walkways, trees and power lines. If a ½ inch or more of freezing rain is forecast an Ice Storm Warning will be issued.
Wind Chill Advisory / Warning– Combination of wind and cold resulting in temperatures that feel -15F to - 24F (Advisory) or -25F or colder (Warning) for more than 3 hours. Can be life threatening conditions.
Auto Safety Tips
- About 70% of winter deaths related to snow and ice occur in automobiles.
- Assemble an Emergency Car Kit Keep these items in your vehicle
- Flashlight with extra batteries (or crank charge)
- Basic first-aid kit
- Necessary Medications
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- Jumper cables
- Blanket and/or sleeping bag
- Extra clothes (including rain gear, mittens and socks)
- Non-perishable foods
- Non-electric can opener
- Sand for generating vehicle traction
- Tire chains or traction mats
- Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Tow rope
- Container of water
- Brightly colored cloth to serve as a signal flag
- Keep your gas tank full and check your windshield wiper fluid.
- Install good winter tires with adequate tread.
- Ensure your vehicle is maintained and in good working order.
- Keep a windshield scraper, small broom and shovel for ice and snow removal.
- Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.
- Travel during daylight hours, keep others informed of your schedule, route and if possible, take another person with you. Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
- If a blizzard traps you in your car, pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from your radio antenna or window.
- Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are more likely to find you. Do not set out on foot, unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open the window slightly for ventilation. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
- Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers.
- Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
- Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electricity energy needs: the use of lights, heat and radio.
- At night, turn on the inside light so work crews and rescuers can see you.
During a Winter Storm
- Stay indoors and limit travel to only absolutely necessary trips.
- Check on elderly or disabled relatives and/or neighbors. Also, consider your pets.
- If you need to go outdoors, dress for the season, wearing several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Mittens are better than gloves.
- Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Be careful when shoveling snow. Over-exertion can bring on a heart attack – a major cause of death in the winter.
- Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove any wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages, if the victim is conscious. Get medical help, as soon as possible.
After the Winter Storm
- Stay off roads to allow plowing operations to proceed smoothly.
- Help dig out fire hydrants and storm drains in your neighborhood.
- Avoid parking too close to corners, allowing Public Safety vehicles and plows to maneuver safely.
- Be aware of children playing in the streets, particularly climbing on or running out from behind large snowdrifts. Parents should remind their children to be aware of plowing operations and traffic.
- Clear exhaust vents from Direct Vent Gas Furnace Systems to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never run automobile until exhaust pipe has been cleared of snow.
- Make sure backup generators and alternative heating sources are well ventilated.
- Take your time shoveling. Avoid overexertion.
- Use care around downed power lines. Assume a down wire is a live wire. Report it to authorities.
- Watch out for overhead hazards such as broken tree limbs and ice on roofs and wires.
- Remove heavy snow from roofs; if safe to do so. Make sure gutters and drains are clear.
- Be careful walking on snowy, icy sidewalks.
Information for the Winter Weather Preparedness guide is from MSU Extension.
Question: I’m located outside of the City of Columbus and I want to close down a road for an event . What do I need to do?
Answer: You will need to file for an Application for Temporary Street/Road Closure with the Road and Bridge Department.
Question: When will my road get plowed?
Answer: Please refer to the Stillwater County Road and Bridge Snow Removal Plan.