A winter storm can range from moderate snow over a few hours to
blizzard conditions with blinding, wind-driven snow or freezing
rain that lasts several days. The aftermath of a winter storm
can impact a community or region for days, weeks, and even months.
The time to prepare for a winter storm is before the snow and
ice begin to fall.
- Know the terms used by weather forecasters. A "winter
storm watch" indicates that severe winter weather may affect
your area and now is the time to prepare. A "winter storm
warning" indicates that severe winter weather conditions
are definitely on the way. A "blizzard warning" means
that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds
of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.
- Consider purchasing a battery-powered NOAA (National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio and stock extra
- Keep rock salt to melt ice on walkways and sand to improve
- Make sure you have an alternate heat source and a supply of
- Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
- Insulate walls and attics.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
- Keep your car "winterized" with fresh antifreeze.
Use snow tires.
- Keep a winter car kit in the trunk of your car.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television
for weather reports and emergency information.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing
rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Wear mittens instead of gloves.
- Wear a hat-most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Avoid overexertion.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If symptoms
are detected, get medical help immediately. Frostbite is a severe
reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims.
A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes,
or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite. Hypothermia is
a condition brought on when the body's core temperature is less
than 35 degrees centigrade. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable
shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness,
and exhaustion. If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected begin
warming the person slowly. Warm the person's trunk first. Use
your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last
since stimulation of the arms and legs can drive blood to the
heart and lead to heart failure. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia
victim something with caffeine in it or alcohol. Caffeine can
cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects cold has
on the body. Alcohol can slow the heart and also hasten ill effects
of cold body temperature.
- Conserve fuel by keeping your house cooler than normal.
- Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three
feet from flammable objects.
- If caught in your car during a blizzard or winter storm REMAIN
in your vehicle and wait to be found.
Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management