As the central United States grapples with a fierce winter storm bringing blizzards, ice, and treacherous travel conditions, residents across the Plains and upper Midwest face significant challenges. With the National Weather Service warning of “difficult to near impossible” travel conditions due to heavy snow, freezing rain, and strong winds, it’s crucial to be prepared and informed. Here are practical tips for overcoming this daunting blizzard.
1. Stay Informed
– Regularly check weather updates and travel advisories. Websites, social media, and local news channels are valuable resources for the latest information on road closures and weather conditions.
2. Travel Only If Necessary
– Limit travel to emergencies. If you must travel, inform someone of your route and expected arrival time. Avoid back roads and stick to main routes, which are more likely to be cleared and patrolled.
3. Prepare Your Vehicle
– Ensure your vehicle is winter-ready with antifreeze, a robust battery, and winter tires. Keep a snow shovel, windshield scraper, and a bag of sand or cat litter for traction in your trunk.
4. Pack a Survival Kit
– In case of stranding, have a survival kit in your vehicle, including blankets, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and necessary medications.
5. Drive Safely
– If you’re on the road, drive cautiously. Reduce speed, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, and avoid using cruise control on slippery surfaces. Remember, it’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on icy roads.
6. Home Safety Measures
– Ensure your home is prepared for potential power outages with flashlights, batteries, and a stock of food and water. Avoid using candles to minimize fire risks.
7. Beware of Ice
– Walk cautiously on icy surfaces. Spread sand or salt on icy patches near your home. Remember that black ice, which is nearly invisible, can form on roads and sidewalks.
8. Check on Neighbors
– Particularly check on elderly or vulnerable neighbors who might need extra help during the storm.
9. Understand Frostbite and Hypothermia
– Learn the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. In extremely cold weather, avoid staying outside for prolonged periods.
10. Snow Removal Safety
– If you need to shovel snow, do it safely. Avoid overexertion, take breaks, and use proper lifting techniques to prevent injuries.
While the storm is expected to wind down by midweek, the aftermath could leave many areas grappling with snow and ice for days. It’s crucial to remain vigilant, prepare adequately, and prioritize safety above all else. By following these tips, residents can better navigate the challenges posed by this severe winter storm.
Stay safe, and remember: the best way to handle a blizzard is to respect its power and prepare accordingly.