Lincoln, IL – Despite relatively mild weather from last December through this past March, nine winter storms impacted Illinois. This included a spring snowstorm on March 24 which produced record amounts of snow greater than 18 inches deep in parts of central Illinois.
“Now is the time of the year to prepare for the impacts of winter storms. Snow has already made a visit to central Illinois which caught several motorists off guard. Waiting to prepare your home or vehicle until a day or two before the storm is too late” said Chris Miller, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Lincoln.
To help the people of Illinois become more aware of how to be prepared for winter and the cold weather, the NWS and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency has declared November 17 – 23, Illinois Winter Weather Preparedness Week.
“Check the latest weather conditions, forecasts and road condition reports for the entire route you plan to travel. It is also a good idea to let someone else know about your travel plans and routes in case you become stranded or delayed” Miller said.
“Recent snow storms which impacted central and southeast Illinois the past few years have really underscored the importance of having alternate heating sources for your home and a winter storm survival kit in your vehicle” said Miller. “I have spoken to many people who were caught in storms, wishing they would have had some items to help them while they were without power at home or stranded on the side of the road.”
There are inexpensive things that people can buy to make sure that they travel safely during the winter. It is important to have a winter storm survival kit in each vehicle. The items in this kit will help in the event that you are stranded – even on a short trip – or if you are waiting for a tow truck. Suggested items for this kit include:
o Cell phone and charger
o Blankets and extra clothing
o First aid kit
o Flashlight and extra batteries
o Booster cables and a tow rope with looped ends (not hooks)
o A basic tool kit, windshield scraper and brush
o A small shovel and sack of sand or cat litter
o A large empty can with a cover and tissues
o Water and high calorie, non-perishable food
Other things people can do to get through the winter weather season safely include:
- Slow down when driving on snow or ice covered roadways, particularly on bridges, overpasses and highway ramps. In Illinois, snow and ice covered roads result in an average of 29,260 vehicle crashes each year. These accidents also produce an average of 4,454 injuries and 51 fatalities annually. In addition, make sure you give snow plows plenty of clearance on the road.
o Have an alternate heating source. If you have an alternate heating source, use it safely with proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Never bring an outdoor grill into your home for cooking or heating purposes
o Dress for the cold. If you spend time outdoors – whether it is for work or recreation – dress appropriately and stay dry. If you become wet, even from perspiration, you will become cold quicker. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid frostbite.
o Be aware of the signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a deadly condition when the body’s temperature drops to 93 degrees or lower. Other signs include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech and drowsiness. Get the victim IMMEDIATE medical attention. If medical care is not available, warm the core of the body first and NOT the extremities. Warming the extremities first, such as the hands and feet, can lead to heart failure.
o Plan your time outdoors accordingly. People have died from exposure to the cold by getting lost or caught in a storm while hunting and hiking. Be aware of the forecast and limit your time spent outdoors in the cold. Frostbite can develop within 1 to 2 hours when temperatures are in the 30s, or as quick as 10 to 30 minutes when readings are around zero or colder.
For more information about being adequately prepared for winter weather conditions, visit the NWS Lincoln “Winter Weather Safety” web page at: http://www.weather.gov/Lincoln/?n=winter-prep.