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Winter Storm Watch

Longmont Fire Department


Normally, when a winter storm is expected, the National Weather Service will issue a Winter Storm WATCH 12 to 36 hours in advance. A winter storm WATCH means that conditions exist for the possible occurrence of severe winter weather such as blizzard conditions, heavy snow, significant freezing rain, or heavy sleet.Picture of winter storm

A Winter Storm WATCH is your signal to prepare for the storm now. Once the storm begins, travel may be too dangerous or impossible.

Preparing at home (and at work):
Remaining inside protected from the elements is the safest place during a winter storm. The primary concern of being indoors is the potential loss of heat, power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if the storm persists for more than a day.

Here is a checklist you can use to be prepared for the indoors:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Battery powered weather radio and portable radio tuned to 1360 AM
- Extra food and water especially high energy food that requires no cooking or refrigeration such as dried fruit and canned goods
- Medicine, first aid supplies, and ample baby supplies
- Emergency heating source, such as a stocked fireplace, wood stove, or space heater
- Smoke detector and fire extinguisher, the chance of fire increases dramatically using alternative heating
- Carbon Monoxide detector

Don't forget, you may not be at home when the storm strikes! Have emergency supplies available at your place of work.

Preparing the car or truck...
About 70% of deaths during an ice or snow storm occur in a vehicle! If you wonder if you should attempt to travel, then don't ! If you must travel then allow extra time. Reduce your speed and do not attempt to travel to make sudden turns or stops. Winterize the vehicle so it will be reliable. This includes a good set of tires. Other items necessary for the car or truck include:
- Dry blanket(s) or sleeping bag
- Extra dry clothing
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- High calorie non-perishable food (granola bars and powerbars)
- Snow shovel, windshield scraper, and brush
- Sack of sand, rock salt, or kitty litter for traction
- Booster cables
- First aid kit and a small container for water
- Maps, compass, knife, and water proof matches

The Winter Storm Warning

Snow blizzard graphicNormally, when a winter storm is imminent, the National Weather service will issue a Winter Storm WARNING or Blizzard WARNING 6 to 24 hours before the storm strikes. A winter storm WARNING means that severe winter weather such as heavy snow, significant freezing rain, or heavy sleet is expected. A Blizzard WARNING means that sustained or gusty winds of 35 MPH or more are expected to reduce visibility at or below a quarter of a mile due to falling and/or blowing snow for at least three hours.

The issuance of theWinter Storm Warning is your signal to take steps necessary to keep you, your family, and pets or animals safe during the storm.

All unnecessary travel should be delayed until the storm is over. Seventy percent of all deaths during snow and ice storms occur in vehicles! If you get stranded in your vehicle and shelter is not visible nearby then stay with your vehicle.

- Run the motor for about ten minutes each hour for heat. Keep the tailpipe free form snow and open the window slightly from time to time to let in fresh air (REMEMBER CARBON MONOXIDE)
- Make yourself visible by turning on the dome light while the engine is running and tie a colored (red) cloth to your antenna or door.
- Exercise occasionally by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep your blood circulating.
- Eat and drink regularly to keep your body temperature up and prevent dehydration.

Provide for pets by making sure they have shelter and plenty of food and fresh water available.

Most deaths and injuries during winter storms can be prevented! Overexertion in the cold kills many people. The heart and blood vessels constrict in cold conditions to preserve body heat. Too much exertion can cause a heart attack.

When shoveling snow or doing other activities in the cold you should always set a slow pace. Take frequent breaks and warm yourself regularly.

Sweating can lead to hypothermia (low body temperature). The signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech, and drowsiness or exhaustion. If the body temperature has dropped below 95F seek immediate medical help.

Frostbite can also occur from exposure to the cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and usually occurs in extremities such as toes or fingers first.

When treating hypothermia or frostbite always make sure the affected area is dry and then warm it slowly using blankets! A person suffering from hypothermia must have their chest, neck and head warmed first.

When spending time outdoors in the cold...wear several layers of loose-fitting, light weight, warm clothing. Remove layers of clothing to avoid perspiration, and subsequent chill.