With snow flurries and freezing temperatures eminent, the Decatur County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) offered some safety advice to brave the cold earlier this week.
EMA director Rob Duckworth, implores residents to exercise caution and common sense when using alternate heating sources such as space heaters.
- Space heaters should be kept at least three feet from flammable materials such as draperies, blankets, clothing and bedding.
- Never plug a space heater into an extension cord or surge protector.
- Turn off space heaters when abandoning a room for an extended time.
- The correct grade of fuel should be used for liquid-powered space heaters, and never use gasoline.
Caution should be used when choosing wood and burning material for fireplaces.
- Be sure that firewood does not have creosote, an oily, easily flammable deposit that is the cause for most chimney fires, and the largest share of home heating fires.
- Artificial logs should not be used in wood stoves.
- Do no use flammable liquids to start a fire, only use paper or kindling wood.
- Fireplaces should have a sturdy screen to prevent sparks.
- Ash should be allowed to cool before being deposited into a metal container.
- Fuel-burning equipment should be allowed to vent clearly and unobstructed to the outside.
GetPrepared.IN.gov, where Duckworth took his information, also offers advice on how to drive safely in the winter weather and what to do in the event of wrecking and becoming stranded.
The first bit of advice before driving in winter weather, is always make sure your car is in order. Check your vehicle’s wheels, engine, antifreeze, windshield wipers and blades and brakes.
- Carry extra supplies such as blankets, and spare clothes such as mittens, boots and hats.
- Carry nonperishable food and drinks such as water, granola bars, nuts or crackers.
- Bring a car cellphone charger.
- Have a tire repair kit and pump.
- Don’t pour hot water over frozen locks, the water will refreeze.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full, and fill the tank before parking for lengthy periods. Having gasoline in the tank will prevent the fuel line from freezing.
- Always be aware of driving conditions before leaving home.
- Do not leave the house if there are severe weather warnings in place.
- In the event of a power outage, try to keep cash on your person, as ATMs will likely not work.
- In the event of wrecking in a deserted area, remain calm, and remain in your vehicle while waiting for rescuers.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your car so rescuers may see you.
- Run the heat in your car once an hour for 10 minutes. An idling car uses about one gallon of gas per hour.
- Never eat snow for hydration. The snow will make your body temperature lower.
- Move around to keep your blood circulating.
- If you are stranded in your car, do not leave your car unless help is immediate.
Humans aren’t the only critters who need help fending off the cold.
Additionally, Laura Johnston, manager of the Greensburg/Decatur County Animal Shelter, offered some advice on how to care for animals kept outside.
- Make sure dog houses or shelters are facing east or south. The cold winds normally come from the north and west.
- Do not use cotton blankets for outdoor shelters. Cotton is extremely cold when wet. Instead, use straw, but make sure the straw doesn’t get moldy.
- Outdoor animals need water more than ever in the dry, cold weather. Make sure the water is fresh daily, and isn’t frozen.
- Outdoor animals need extra food for the winter to help keep warm with extra padding.
Johnston added that if anyone is need of straw, people can come to the animal shelter to obtain some. The animal shelter can be contacted at 812-663-9081, and is located at 1635 West Park Road.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has also given some advice for protecting pets.
- Keep your dogs on leashes. If the dog gets loose, they can lose their sense of smell in the cold weather more easily than any other season, and become lost.
- Never shave your animals during the winter, they need their full coat more than ever.
The EMA also provided an explanation of all the jargon used when describing weather advisories:
Winter Storm Advisory - Cold, ice and heavy snow are expected.
Winter Storm Watch - Heavy snow and ice are very possible over the next couple of days, so finalize preparations and listen to a weather radio or forecasts.
Winter Storm Warning - Severe winter weather is in the area. Heavy snow and/or ice will begin soon.
Blizzard - Strong winds over 35 miles per hour that reduces visibility.
Sleet - Rain that falls and turns into ice before it hits the ground.
Freezing Rain - Rain that falls and turns to ice once it hits a surface.
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004