Winter Storms and Extreme Cold Advisory
Date:  Seasonal/Winter

Winter storms in Connecticut can bring heavy snowfall, ice covered roads and walkways, closed highways, flooding, downed trees and power lines, and extreme temperature drops. 
The following is a compilation of advice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross on how to protect one’s self and one’s family from winter storm hazards.
Winter Storm Terms
Understanding these terms can help you identify a winter storm hazard:
Freezing Rain --
Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.
Sleet --
Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
Winter Storm Watch --

A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.
Winter Storm Warning --
A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
Blizzard Warning --

Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
Frost/Freeze Warning --
Below freezing temperatures are expected.
Hypothermia --

A dangerously low body temperature characterized by confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
Frostbite --

Local tissue destruction as a result of freezing characterized by gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
Before a Winter Storm
Check your disaster supplies and add these items to your kit:
  • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
Prepare your home and family
  • Have sufficient heating fuel for your home.
  • Winterize your home.  Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.
  • Winterize any structure that may provide shelter for you and your family.  Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Check the ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

American Red Cross Tips to Prevent Home Heating Fires

  • Fireplace Safety:  Keep fire in the fireplace by using glass or metal fire screens. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house and provide constant adult supervision in rooms with fires lit.
  • Call a professional:  Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned, if necessary.
  • Appliances for cooking, not heating:  Always follow the directions for using appliances that generate heat, keep them clear of flammable materials and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Do not feed the fire:  Keep all flammable materials and potential fuel sources – including but not limited to old newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs – at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.
  • Space heaters:  Whether operating on electricity, gas, kerosene, coal or wood, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how, when and where to safely use them. If you must use space heaters, place them on a level, hard and nonflammable surface such as ceramic tile floor – not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
Prepare your car
  • Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
ü Antifreeze levels
ü Battery and ignition system
ü Brakes
ü Exhaust System
ü Fuel and air filters
ü Heater and defroster
ü Lights and flashing hazard lights
ü Oil
ü Thermostat
ü Windshield wiper equipment
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • Shovel
    • Windshield scraper and small broom
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Battery powered radio with extra batteries
    • First aid kit and manual
    • Bottled water and high energy foods
    • Matches and pocket knife
    • Extra clothing including
    • Necessary medications
    • Emergency contact information
    • Blanket(s) and/or sleeping bags
    • Tow chain or rope
    • Road salt and sand
    • Booster cables and emergency flares
    • Compass and road map
    • Fluorescent distress flag
    • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
Dress for the Weather
  • Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, and a hat.
  • Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
During a Winter Storm
  • Listen to your radio, or television, for weather reports and emergency information.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal.  Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation and wrap pipes in rags.  Completely open all faucets; pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes.  Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
If You Are Outdoors
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.  Overexertion can bring on a heart attack.
  • Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors.
  • Keep dry.  Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite.  Signs include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose.  If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia.  Signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • If symptoms of hypothermia are detected:
    • Get the victim to a warm location
    • remove wet clothing
    • put the person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket
    • warm the center of the body first
    • give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages if the victim is conscious
    • get medical help as soon as possible
If You Are Driving
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
    • Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
    • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
  • If a blizzard traps you in the car
    • Pull off the highway.  Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
    • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you.
    • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.  When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.  This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion.  In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation.
    • Take turns sleeping.  One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
    • Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
    • Be careful not to waste battery power.
    • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
    • Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.