Winter Preparedness

Winter Preparedness

winter landscapeThe City of Manassas Fire and Rescue Department are emphasizing three of the most important things that residents can do to stay safe during this winter weather / storm:

  1. Clear the area around the fire hydrants and dry hydrants in your neighborhood. Clearing the snow from around the hydrants will enable fire and rescue personnel to access the hydrants quickly in the event of an emergency.
  2. Make sure your address is visible for emergency personnel. If your address has been covered up by the snow, write it in clear, large print on a piece of paper and place it on your front door.
  3. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and home-bound and especially in rural areas.

Keep Yourself Safe This Winter

  • Intense exertion from shoveling snow, combined with freezing cold, can make your heart rate and blood pressure soar, potentially leading to heart attacks and injuries. If you are going to shovel snow, be careful to avoid exertion as cold weather puts extra strain on your body
  • Prepare wisely. Dress in layers and wear boots with slip-resistant soles. Use a shovel with an S-shaped handle, which causes less flexing of the spine. But consider using a snow thrower if you have back problems
  • Use good timing and technique. Try to shovel promptly, when the snow is still light and powdery. Hold the shovel close to your body and push rather than lift the snow whenever possible. If you must lift, use your legs to raise and lower your upper body and the shovel, keeping your back straight and feet apart
  • Watch for warning signs. If you feel pressure or pain in your chest, or discomfort spreading to your shoulders, neck, jaw, arms, or back, call 9-1-1 immediately
  • If you have a history of heart problems, the American College of Emergency Physicians advises against shoveling
  • Remember to stay hydrated while performing these physical tasks

Dress for the Weather

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, and warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded
  • Wear a hat because 40% of your body heat can be lost from your head
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves
  • Try to stay dry and out of the wind

Prepare for the Weather

  • Stock three to five days worth of essential supplies. This includes water (one gallon per person per day), required medications and food that is non-perishable. Make sure you have a flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, manual can opener and special needs items such as diapers
  • Monitor the temperature of your home. Infants and persons over age 65 are especially susceptible to cold. Dress in several layers to maintain body heat. Covering up with blankets can also conserve heat
  • If your home heating source uses oil or propane, ensure you have a 3-5 day supply
  • Have an alternate heat source, such as a fireplace, space heater or wood stove in case of power failure. Follow manufacturer recommendations for installation and use
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to make certain they are working properly
  • Monitor the local weather forecasts and media reports

Important Weather Terms

The National Weather Service uses the following terms when talking about winter weather:

  • Winter Storm Warning - A watch is upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin
  • Winter Weather Advisories inform you that winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is exercised, advisory situations should not become life-threatening
  • Blizzard Warning means that snow and strong winds will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Be sure to listen carefully to the radio, television, and NOAA Weather Radio for the latest winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories
  • Wind Chill Warning - issued when wind chill temperatures are life threatening
  • Wind Chill Advisory - issued when wind chill temperatures are potentially hazardous

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