- Winter Storm Warning: Take action; the storm is entering the area.
- Blizzard Warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. These advisories from the National Weather Service should be taken very seriously.They are not sent out for practice. This winter weather event is real and has potential to kill the foolish or unprepared. So, are you adequately prepared? Winter weather exposures lead to injuries and deaths each year in Montana and the region. At home or on the road, people who should know better do foolish things and unnecessarily expose themselves and family, risking disaster. Listen to weather warnings, prepare your home and car and be aware of the risks. A lengthy power failure or getting stuck outside in subzero cold can escalate to a life threatening situation really quickly. The Checklist below courtesy of Centers for Disease Control.
Food and Safety Checklist
Have a week’s worth of food and safety supplies at home. If you live far from other people, have more supplies on hand.
- Drinking water
- Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
- Non-electric can opener
- Baby food and formula (if baby in the household)
- Prescription drugs and other medicine
- First-aid kit
- Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
- Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
(To prevent the risk of fire, avoid using candles.)
Keep a water supply. Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes break.
- Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
- Keep the indoor temperature warm.
- Allow more heated air near pipes. Open kitchen cabinet doors under the kitchen sink.
- If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
- If you cannot thaw your pipes, or if the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
- Have bottled water on hand.
- In an emergency—if no other water is available—snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
- Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:
- Fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or gas fired stove
- Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters
- Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
- Use electric space heaters with
- automatic shut-off switches and
- nonglowing elements.
- Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.
- Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
- Have the following safety equipment:
- Chemical fire extinguisher
- Smoke alarm in working order (Check once a month and change batteries once a year.)
- Carbon monoxide detector
- Never use a charcoal grill or electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
- Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
- Use individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords to plug in other appliances.
Cooking and Lighting Checklist
- Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stove indoors—the fumes are deadly.
- Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
- Avoid using candles.
- Never leave lit candles alone.
Car and Emergency Checklist
- Full tank of gas
- Cell phone; portable charger or inverter and extra battery
- Windshield scraper
- Battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
- Flashlight (and extra batteries)
- Snack food -plentiful and high energy
- Extra hats, coats, mittens
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Chains or rope
- Tire chains
- Canned compressed air with sealant (emergency tire repair)
- Road salt and sand
- Booster cables
- Emergency flares
- Bright colored flag; help signs
- First aid kit
- Tool kit
- Road maps
- Waterproof matches and a can (to melt snow for water)
- Paper towels Be well prepared for safety, comfort and peace of mind. Avoid any unnecessary travel during these winter weather events. Keep a sober, level head. Remain sheltered at all times.