THE GOSHEN NEWS
---- — Hazardous winter weather is arriving on Michiana’s doorsteps.
Heavy snow and extremely low temperatures are expected to create dangerous weather situations, Indiana Department of Homeland Security officials said Saturday.
IDHS officials suggest resident prepare for these conditions by:
• Purchasing a weather radio with a backup hand crank or battery power option to keep updated in the event of a power outage. Weather radios are commonly found at local hardware, home improvement or discount stores.
• Purchasing non-perishable food items and bottled water for both the home and any vehicles. Food that does not need to be cooked can go a long way in a power outage.
• Checking all medications and consider filling prescriptions, if possible. Travel to a pharmacy once snow, wind and low temperatures arrive may be hazardous.
• Having extra blankets in addition to coats or jackets, socks and other warm clothing in vehicles and homes. Keep a flashlight with extra batteries nearby.
Just like the home, it is important to prepare vehicles for severe winter weather conditions, IDHS officials said. Again, take steps before weather arrives to ensure the safety of vehicles.
• Fill the gas tanks of all vehicles you own. Low temperatures can quickly freeze gas lines, especially if the tank is near empty.
• If necessary, run the vehicle’s engine for a few minutes as needed throughout the day. This helps keep the engine and fuel lines warm and prevents freezing.
• Gather preparedness supplies for vehicles in case travel is necessary. Such supplies should include bottled water, extra blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, and chargers for cell phones and mobile devices.
Homeland Security officials caution motorists to be aware of their surroundings and know of road conditions before traveling.
Monitor local media throughout the day to keep up to date on the latest weather forecast. Local media will also provide reports on school and business closures. Many media outlets and the National Weather Service have notification systems that work with smart phones.
Local Emergency Management agencies provide updates on county travel status. Counties may be placed under travel advisories, alerts or warnings. The county travel status map can be found at http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory.
In severe winter weather situations, law enforcement may be busy with emergencies to respond to. DO NOT call local law enforcement or 911 for road information. Visit http://indot.carsprogram.org or call 800-261-ROAD for road information.
“INDOT will use all necessary resources to keep the interstates, U.S. highways and state routes open and as safe as possible for emergency responders,” said Gov. Mike Pence. “Hoosiers can do their part by following county travel advisories and staying off the roads, both during the storm and the blowing and drifting that follows. Do not put yourselves or your local emergency responders in harm’s way.”
The Indiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies encourage the public to keep its phone lines open for emergencies and to access road conditions at http://indot.carsprogram.org/ or by dialing toll-free 800-261-ROAD (7623). For up-to-date county travel statuses, Hoosiers are encouraged to visit http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/.
For more winter weather and vehicle preparedness tips, visit GetPrepared.IN.gov.
The American Red Cross of Elkhart and Kosciusko counties have placed volunteers on alert and are prepared to respond, as needed, to storm-related emergencies.
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross is urging all Elkhart and Kosciusko county residents to be prepared — not only for the snow, but for extreme cold and possible power outages. Additionally, extreme weather increases the risk of home fires.
Most importantly, Red Cross officials said, be a good friend and neighbor: Reach out to make sure others are safe and well.
Here are some tips to help residents stay safe:
With this winter storm, temperatures are expected to drop as conditions deteriorate throughout Michiana. People should take the following steps:
• Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service.
• Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.
• If travel is necessary, make sure you have a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle which includes: shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, extra batteries, sack of sand or cat litter.
• Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
• When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks to avoid risk of injury or cardiac arrest.
• Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
• Bring pets inside during winter weather.
• Make sure coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing are available for all household members, along with extra blankets.
• Eat regular meals and stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
Home heating safety
Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires.
• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
• Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
If the power goes out, people should:
• Use flashlights for light, not candles.
• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out. Your refrigerator will keep cold for about four hours. If the freezer is full, it will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.
• Have coolers on hand and surround your food with ice in the cooler or refrigerator to keep food cold for a longer period of time. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
• Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics to avoid damaging them when the power is restored.
• Avoid unnecessary travel as traffic lights will be out and roads congested.
• Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.
• If someone is planning to use a generator, never use it indoors, including in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other area, even with ventilation. Generators put off carbon monoxide fumes, which can be deadly.
For more information on emergency preparedness, people can visit www.redcross.org/prepare.