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Although we may be in store for a mild winter, emergency preparedness for severe winter weather remains necessary. Even during a warmer-than-average winter, periods of cold temperatures and snowfall are still likely to occur. Snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.
The winter season brings unique opportunities for fun and adventure, but it can bring some risk to health and safety if you don’t prepare. Severe winter weather may bring blizzard conditions, heavy snowfall, ice storms, and extreme cold events. Other events that can happen at the same time include power outages, local or regional travel restrictions, as well as business and school closures as a result winter weather.
Are your home and vehicle emergency kits updated with necessary supplies for winter weather? Have you planned for short-term and extended power outages that could occur? Do you maintain an adequate supply of any critical medications to allow for potential delays in filling prescriptions?
Prepare your home. Ensure your furnace is maintained and serviced to keep you warm during winter and to help minimize the risk of furnace failure. Carbon monoxide detectors are a ‘must have’. Be sure your home is adequately monitored on all levels.
Work Together to keep Fire Hydrants accessible. Work with your neighbors to ensure fire hydrants remain visible and are accessible to the fire department from the street side. The snow should be cleared to ground level, below all the caps, and three to four feet around the hydrant with a clear path to the street.
Prepare your vehicle. Carry a winter survival kit. Include extra clothing, a blanket, and high energy foods. Be sure the vehicle windows, headlights and taillights are clear of snow, ice and frost before traveling. Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition and the tires have adequate tread for safe winter travel.
Travel Safety. Don’t crowd the plow – and don’t use cruise control on slippery roads. Before you set out on a trip, let others know of your travel plans. Check the latest forecast and road report before traveling, and adjust travel plans as necessary.
Prepare Yourself and Family. The National Weather Service website, www.weather.gov/safety is a great starting point to learn about winter weather and winter safety. Additional emergency preparedness information is available on the Bismarck Emergency Management webpage at www.bismarcknd.gov/emergencymanagement.
“Whether you’re new to the area, or experienced with North Dakota winters, we can all learn something new about winter weather preparedness. Whether it’s how to dress in layers, or which side of the fire hydrant must be cleared if we have heavy snowfall,” said Bismarck Emergency Manager, Gary Stockert.