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Hunkering down for the next storm? Here's some advice

Sunday, December 9, 2007 | 4:10 p.m. CST; updated 3:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — With the National Weather Service forecasting more bad weather, travelers are urged to adjust their plans and ensure their vehicles are winterized. Residents are also encouraged to make preparations at home by stocking emergency supplies, especially if they live in rural areas.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the next storm:

Things to stock up on: batteries, candles, water, extra food, first-aid kit. And if you really have the money to spend on it, a generator might be a good purchase, especially if your power goes out often.

If the power goes out, your heating system could be out for several days. The University of Wisconsin has a few tips on how to stay warm in an unheated house.

Use an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace or a space heater. Keep a single room heated rather than trying to keep an entire house warm. Close off the room to the rest of the house. Try to select a room away from prevailing winds and avoid poorly insulated windows. Basements may be the warmest place in your home because the ground is a natural insulator.

While being cold is uncomfortable and poses health risks, the greater danger in these situations is actually fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Always keep safety in mind. Don’t burn anything other than candles in your home unless you have good ventilation.

If you are burning a fire, have one person keep an eye on it. Never leave a fire unattended.

Keep materials for putting out fires at hand: fire extinguishers, heavy blankets, baking soda and water.

Conserve your body heat by layering clothes. Extra blankets should be used to trap body heat — especially for children.

What’s the difference in weather terms?

• Winter weather advisory: The National Weather Service uses this term for a many severe conditions that are occuring, such as snow, blowing and drifting snow, freezing drizzle, freezing rain or a combination of weather events.

• Winter storm watch: Severe winter weather conditions include freezing rain, sleet or heavy snow may occur, but isn’t imminent.

• Winter storm warning: Severe winter weather conditions are impending.

• Wind chill: Low temperatures in addition to wind can lower the temperature up to 50 degrees below the actual temperature. The cooling effect of wind and the temperature on exposed skin is known as the wind-chill factor.

Winterize your car

Be sure your car has plenty of antifreeze. It may be a good idea to have a winter kit with an ice scraper, flashlight, candles, a tow rope or chain, flares and blankets. It is best to travel with someone during a storm. Alert family or friends of your travel plans. Be sure your gas tank is full. That way, if you become stranded you can keep the heat running.

If you become stranded, stay inside your vehicle. Roll a window down slightly, especially if you are burning a candle or using another heating source. Be sure snow is not blocking your exhaust pipe. Turn your dome light on at night so you will be visible to passing cars and work crews.

This advice came from the National Ag Safety Database Web site.

If you are shoveling snow on your driveway, the Columbia Public Works suggests pushing the snow to the right side of your driveway (as you’re facing the street) so that when they plow, they do not push snow back onto your drive.


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