Remember our mild winter last year?
After a year of hottest-on-record months, now wetter and cooler conditions are expected across the northern United States, thanks to El Nino.
That means Ohio and the rest of the Great Lakes region should brace for snow, warns the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center.
As fall winds down, Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness are ramping up with Winter Safety Awareness Week, which runs from Nov. 13-19.
The governor encourages households and businesses to update their safety plants, replenish disaster supply kits, and prepare vehicles and homes for winter-related incidents.
“If you don’t have an emergency supply kit, now is a good time to start one,” said Ohio EMA director Sima Merick. “You may find that you already have a lot of items on hand. Check the batteries in your flashlights and weather radios. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and conduct fire drills.”
If snowy or icy conditions exist, travel can get pretty hectic. Before getting on the road, it’s best to know before you go. Pay attention to weather forecasts and traffic reports. Listen for reports of school and business closings, snow emergencies, traffic delays or road closures. Plan your travel time accordingly.
Outside, cut and remove low-hanging and dead tree branches. Ice, snow, and strong winds can cause limbs to break and fall. Have your gutters cleaned, since snow and ice can build up quickly if gutters are clogged with debris. Have auxiliary heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces checked or serviced before using.
If using a portable generator, read instructions thoroughly to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy; talk with your insurance agent about the financial risks that winter can bring. Consider purchasing flood insurance.
Inside, prepare winter disaster kits for the home and vehicle. Refresh stored nonperishable foods and bottled water. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and radios. \
Winter emergency kits should include warm clothing, blankets, flashlights, new batteries, coats, hats, gloves, a battery-operated or hand-cranked radio, first aid kit, and enough nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person, per day) to sustain every family member for several days. Don’t forget to provide for your pets as well.
Invest in an NOAA public alert/weather radio. Every home, school and business should have a tone-alert weather radio with a battery back-up. Weather and public alert radios are programmed to automatically sound an alert during public safety and severe weather events. Visit www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ for more information.
Update your disaster preparedness plans. Every home, school, and business should have written plans for the different types of incidents that can occur. Review the plans with the entire family or staff. Everyone should know what to do in the event of a snow or ice storm, a prolonged power outage, a flood or fire.
Be sure to post contact information for your local emergency management agency. Prepare and practice drills that require sheltering in place and evacuation. Because phone numbers change and families move, ensure your emergency contact list is updated. Establish a meeting place outside of the home, school or business, where others will know where to find or meet you.