Severe winter weather is expected to take aim at much of the Midwest starting Tuesday and lasting a few days, so emergency management professionals are urging residents and business owners to be ready for everything from snow to icy roads and possible power outages.
“Preparing for an emergency before it strikes can literally save your life or property,” said Andrea Spillars, administrator of the Kansas City, Mo. office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “With this approaching winter storm, we urge residents and business owners to take this seriously, get ready now and stay informed.”
Officials from the National Weather Service and FEMA’s Region 7 office in Kansas City have been monitoring the development of this winter storm. Most of Missouri and eastern Kansas will likely see the greatest impacts. Parts of southeast Nebraska and southern Iowa may see some snowfall, but those totals are expected to be less than about four inches.
Forecast models indicate the winter system will bring wide-ranging snowfall amounts up to as much as 14 inches in some areas. Central Missouri could see even higher snow totals. Ice accumulations are likely along and south of the I-44 corridor, with possible accumulations of as much as a quarter-inch in southeast Missouri. These conditions could cause damage to structures and may result in power outages.
Regardless of where you live or work, the most important thing to do right now is to prepare. Here are some tips to help:
Know what to do.
Severe winter weather can quickly change your daily routines at home and work and can last for several hours to days. So it’s important to know what to do if a storm is headed your way.
Monitor local media and weather forecasts to stay up to date on the storm and actions to take as conditions can change quickly;
Become familiar with important weather terms, such as winter storm watches and warnings.
Decide what you will do to weather the storm. For example, what if you are stranded at home or on the road? How will your family reunite if separated by because of weather conditions? Do you have food and supplies on hand to survive for at least three days, especially without power?
Check conditions BEFORE you travel. Don’t hit the roads or head to an airport unless you know there is a good chance your trip can safely proceed.
For more ideas of how to make an emergency plan, go to: www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
Gather emergency supplies for your home
Include a three-day supply of food and water for each person, as well as personal essentials such as medicine and clothing, a battery-powered radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and first-aid items.
Make a kit of emergency supplies for your vehicle
It’s best to avoid traveling by car when there is a threat of dangerous weather. If it’s unavoidable, make sure to have emergency supplies in the vehicle. These supplies should include the same essentials as you have at home, plus the following:
Adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm. Don’t forget mittens, scarves, hats;
Sand to improve traction;
A snow shovel; Cash (ATMs won’t work without power);
A full tank of gas before the storm arrives.
Follow the directions provided by local, state or tribal officials regarding emergency actions
If you are told to stay off the roads, don’t venture out. Shelter in place at your home or business.
Lastly, check on your neighbors or friends, particularly those who are vulnerable or need extra support. Older adults and individuals who are dependent on life-sustaining medical equipment or assistive devices such as a ventilator or mobility devices, may need additional support in areas that have lost power.
Other Important Tips:
Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read and follow instructions on the generator label and in the owner’s manual. Any electrical cables you use with the generator should be free of damage and suitable for outdoor use.
Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves indoors. Burning charcoal or using camp stoves can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide that can result in deaths.
Stay away from downed wires, including cable TV feeds. They may be live with deadly voltage.
Use caution with candles. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room.
Practice food safety. If you do lose power, some food may have to be discarded. For a list of what to keep or toss, go to www.foodsafety.gov.