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What To Do During Severe Weather Emergencies (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we examined what to do in the event you are caught unawares in the path of severe weather such as thunderstorms or tornadoes. As we proceed, we will look at other severe weather events. Today’s lesson: Blizzards and Flash Floods.

Blizzards, ice storms, or just heavy snowfall and freezing rain and sleet can be serious hazards to your safety and health. The first thing you should do any time the weather turns ugly is to turn on your radio and listen for reports on rapidly changing weather conditions. Localized reports can provide conditions in parameters as narrow as a given city street or community, so make use of the technology available to you.

A Winter Storm Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of a winter storm or blizzard in your area. A Winter Storm Warning means that blizzard conditions are imminent. Know your terms and be prepared to respond accordingly.

Before conditions deteriorate, you should check all of your battery powered equipment, your food supply, fuel stock, and other vital emergency provisions. Make sure you dress in layers of clothing as this is far more effective for providing warmth than a single layer of thicker clothing. While gloves may provide for a greater range of movement, mittens are better suited for keeping your hands warm. You may also want to cover your mouth with a scarf to prevent damage to your lungs by the cold air.

Keep your car winterized, with adequate anti-freeze, a blade to scrape off the ice, chains or snow tires, and a full tank of gasoline. Carry a winter kit around with you in order to provide temporary provisions and warmth if you do become trapped in cold, snowy, or icy conditions. If a blizzard traps you in your car, don’t panic, turn on the dome light at night, and avoid over exertion and exposure.  Do not attempt to make unnecessary trips in snow or ice conditions.

Flash floods can strike with little or no warning, which means you may have only minutes or seconds to save your life. Storm drains, culverts, and streams may be easily overrun in torrential rains, turning into raging bodies of water. It takes only about six inches of moving water to knock a grown man off his feet.

A Flash Flood Watch means that heavy rains may cause flash flooding in certain areas. A Flash Flood Warning means that flash flooding is occurring or imminent for certain streams or in designated areas. Listen to your local radio or TV for information on flooding conditions.

During conditions that are ripe for flooding, be sure to listen for signs of rain, thunder, or lightning. Knowing a storm is coming is vital, and you would be surprised at how many people ignore something as obvious as a thunder crash.  You should also be more cautious at night, since it becomes more difficult to recognize dangerous scenarios such as flooded streets.  Keep your distance from open channels, ditches, culverts, and gullies, and watch for rising water levels. Do not try to drive through any area with more than a few inches of water. Bridges and dips in the road may be especially hazardous. If water does begin to rise over the road, abandon your vehicle and seek higher ground. Most flash flood deaths are the result of people becoming trapped in their vehicles.

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