Winter weather heralds safety concerns

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fort Scott, Kan. -- With December fast approaching, the warmer weather is beginning to recede, making room for colder, nastier weather conditions.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.fema.gov.com, in addition to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, www.weather.gov, offer online information for U.S. citizens to educate themselves about the dangers of winter weather and prepare for these hazardous conditions.

Both Web sites agree that citizens should make an extra effort to stay informed about possible hazardous conditions. Residents can stay informed about weather reports and emergency information by listening to radios, television or an NOAA radio, the FEMA Web site said.

The weather Web site said that it is important to become prepared before winter weather hits. Since inclement weather can sometimes cause power outages, the Web site suggests that residents should have several items collected for severe conditions to use at home, should the need arise. Everyone should have a battery-powered NOAA radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, extra food and water, extra medicine and baby items, first-aid supplies, heating fuel, an emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, and a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm.

The Weather Web site also said that it is a good idea for people to make a survival kit to carry in their cars. A car survival kit should include a mobile phone including a car charger, several blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a knife, some high-calorie, non-perishable food items, extra clothing to keep dry, a large empty can to use as a toilet along with tissues and paper towels, a small can of waterproof matches for use in melting snow into drinking water, a sack of sand or cat litter for traction, a shovel, a windshield scraper and brush, a tool kit, a tow rope, battery booster cables, a water container, a compass and road maps.

In addition to the recommendations provided by the Weather Web site, the FEMA Web site said it is a good idea to also have emergency flares and a fluorescent distress flag. FEMA also suggests wearing several layers of loose fitting clothes when traveling.

The outer garments should be tightly woven and waterproof.

The Weather Web site also advises that keeping gas tanks close to full will prevent ice from forming in the tank and fuel lines.

To view the complete weather guides, visit the two Web sites mentioned above.