Next week is Winter Weather Preparedness Week

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The National Weather Service, State Emergency Management Agency and Missouri’s local emergency managers are teaming up to remind Missourians that despite the recent warm temperatures, winter — and the snow, sleet and ice that come with it — is right around the corner, and are promoting Nov. 7-11 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week.

“It’s extremely important for Missourians to plan ahead for winter – having an emergency kit in their vehicle, committing to avoiding travel during danger winter storm conditions and understanding the health risks of prolonged exposure to cold temperatures,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Remillard stated in a news release. “We encourage all Missourians to prepare for winter by reviewing the steps they can take to help ensure they and their families will have a safe and healthy winter season.”

The National Weather Service Forecast Offices that serve the state and SEMA will be sharing weather safety messaging through social media, targeting specific themes each day during Winter Weather Preparedness Week:

Monday, Nov. 7 – Winter weather terminology (winter storm watch, warning, advisory, blizzard, snow squall, etc.)

Tuesday, Nov. 8 – Ice safety

Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Snow safety

Thursday, Nov. 10 – Extreme cold, hypothermia and frostbite

Friday, Nov. 11 – Planning for snow, ice and cold

In 2021, there was more than 7,300 vehicle crashes in the state that had snow, sleet, hail or ice as a factor, resulting in 1,995 injuries and 25 deaths according to data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Even if not directly involved in a crash, inclement weather or an accident blocking the roadway can cause drivers to be stranded for hours. Avoiding non-essential travel during winter storms is one of the best ways to stay safe — it makes it easier for snow removal crews to clear roadways and for first responders to respond to emergencies more quickly.

To protect against frostbite and hypothermia, wear warm, loose-fitting clothes in several layers. Avoid alcohol and limit time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures. To find a Department of Health and Senior Services warming center this winter, visit health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/hypothermia/. In 2021, 76 people died in Missouri as a result of low body temperatures due to prolonged exposure to cold weather, according to data from the DHSS.

There are several other precautions Missourians can take to prepare for winter weather:

  • Create a family emergency plan and emergency kit. Emergency supplies should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit. When power outages are possible, charge cell phones and other devices in advance so you are able to communicate if power is lost.
  • Assemble a vehicle winter emergency kit. Include a blanket, radio/spare batteries, snacks/energy bars, jumper cables, flares, shovel/sand or shingles for tire traction.
  • Avoid driving when conditions could deteriorate. Postpone travel if possible. If driving is necessary, keep your gas tank more than half full, cell phones charged and save emergency numbers for fast dialing. Check road conditions in advance on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Traveler Info Map: traveler.modot.org/map/. Allow extra time, expect delays, reduce speed and increase following distance. If your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road, stay with the vehicle and call for help.
  • Make sure alternate heat and power sources, such as fireplaces, woodstoves, kerosene heaters and generators function properly. These sources can be dangerous and must be maintained and operated. Keep the correct fuel for each source on hand in a safe location. Proper ventilation is essential. Properly install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Only operate generators outdoors.
  • Remember space heaters are potentially deadly when misused. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths. Supplemental heating sources like these and should be turned off when leaving a room or going to bed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment.

Find more winter weather information including safe winter driving techniques, avoiding injury when shoveling and other tips at www.mo.gov/winter-weather-safety/.