SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– With temperatures expected to drop into the single digits for the upcoming week, it is important to know how you should prepare to keep you and your loved ones safe.
In addition to carefully watching the weather forecast for your area, follow these tips to prepare your house and car for winter weather.
Ready.gov says it is best to start preparing for cold temperatures before they arrive.
Preparing your car
One way you can start is by preparing an emergency supply kit for your car. This kit should include jumper cables, ice scraper, a map, car cell phone charger, reflective triangle or flares, warm clothing, blankets, bottled water as well as non-perishable snacks. You should also keep your car’s gas tank full.
Other ways you can prepare your car for winter weather include have a mechanic check antifreeze levels, battery and ignition system, brakes, exhaust system, fuel and air filters, heater and defrost, lights and flashing hazard lights, oil, thermostat, and windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level.
Car safety tips include installing good winter tires.
If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock. You should remain inside your vehicle until a trained person removes the wires.
If it becomes hard to control your vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set your parking brake.
Before leaving during a winter storm, make sure to let someone know your travel plans and pay attention to changing road conditions.
The American Red Cross recommends that you also service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season and maintain it to make sure it is in good working order.
Protecting your home
Start by preventing your water pipes from freezing. Pipes that most commonly freeze are those exposed to severe cold, in unheated interior areas and those that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
When preparing for winter weather, it is important to make sure your home heating sources are installed properly, are clean and in working order.
Make sure your home is properly insulated. You can add caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep the cold air out of your home. You can also install storm windows or use plastic window coverings to provide an extra layer of insulation.
Consider purchasing emergency heating equipment for your home. You should also store sufficient heating fuel.
The American Red Cross provides a complete list things you can do to protect your home on its website.
Keeping yourself safe
During a winter storm or blizzard, stay indoors if possible. However, if you must go outside, make sure you are properly dressed. This includes wearing layered clothing, mittens or gloves and a hat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. If your clothing becomes wet, change into something dry. Wet clothing loses a lot of its insulating value and transmits heat away from the body rapidly, the Red Cross says. Watch for signs of frostbite.
If you are going outside to do manual labor, avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle or walking through deep snow during a storm. Doing these activities with the strain from the cold may cause a heart attack. Sweating could also lead to a chill and hypothermia.
The Red Cross says if you must go outside during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. About 70% of winter deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.
If you are using a portable generator, take the necessary precautions to prevent carbon monoxide positioning, electrocution and fire.
The CDC says that if you are using a fireplace, wood stove or kerosene heater, make sure you install both a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area that you will be heating. To service them, test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
Also make sure to keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented outside and inspected by a qualified technician to ensure they are functioning properly.
It is important to listen to a local television or radio station for updated emergency information during a storm.
Make sure that during a storm you are properly fueling your body with food and drinking liquids to prevent dehydration. The Red Cross recommends drinking liquids such as warm broth or juice, rather than caffeine or alcohol.
If possible, bring your animals indoors during a winter storm. However, if you cannot do this, move your animals to a sheltered area with a supply of non-frozen water. The Red Cross says that most animal deaths in winter are caused by dehydration.
During a winter storm, make sure to keep in contact with relatives, neighbors and friends, particularly if they live alone or are elderly.