Be prepared for winter storm woes
Heavy snowfall, often accompanied by wind and followed by intense cold, can immobilize an entire region, closing streets and highways and causing power outages.
Otter Tail Power Company’s Safety Services Manager Eric Hamm advises residents to check National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, www.weather.com, commercial radio, and television to keep informed about winter storms. Pay attention to:
Winter weather advisories (conditions expected to cause significant inconvenience and may be hazardous, especially to motorists).
Winter storm watches (prepare for severe winter conditions).
Winter storm warnings (severe winter conditions have begun or are about to begin).
Blizzard warnings (snow and strong winds will combine to produce near-zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill).
A primary concern is the potential loss of electric service and, therefore, heat. House fires pose an additional risk as people turn to alternate heating sources, so make sure you have operable fire extinguishers and that everyone in your house knows how to use them properly.
“Prepare an emergency storm kit to help you and your family be safe,” says Hamm. Your kit should include:
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and portable radio to receive emergency information.
- Food requiring no cooking or refrigeration.
- Water supply.
- Extra medicine and first aid supplies.
- Baby and pet items as appropriate.
- Candles and matches.
“If your electrical service is disrupted and you use a backup generator, make sure it’s properly wired to prevent feedback when service is restored,” said Hamm.
To help its customers and neighbors be prepared for severe winter weather, Otter Tail Power Company has posted a Winter Storm Safety Guide on its web site, www.otpco.com.