Preparedness » Weather Safety Information

 

Spring and Summer Severe Weather Safety Information

Huron County is regularly impacted by a number of natural hazards such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, lightning, floods, and winter storms. The Huron County EMA provides the following information and protective action recommendations for your safety during these emergency or disaster situations.

 

Severe Weather Terms

Severe Weather Warning  -  Issued by the National Weather Service’s (NWS) local offices indicating that a particular weather hazard is either imminent or occurring. A warning indicates the need to take action to protect life and property. Typical warnings include:
• Tornado Warning
• Severe Thunderstorm Warning
• Flash Flood/Flood Warning
• Excessive Heat Warning
Severe Weather Watch  -  Issued by the NWS, indicating that conditions are favorable for the development of a particular severe weather event. A watch is normally issued for several hours and indicates a need for planning, preparation and an increased awareness of changing weather conditions. Typical watches include:
• Tornado Watch
• Severe Thunderstorm Watch
• Flood Watch

Flash Flood
A flood that can occur very rapidly. Flash floods occur as the result of very heavy rainfall in a short period of time, generally over a relatively small area.

Flood
A condition that occurs when water overflows the natural or artificial confines of a stream or body of water, or accumulates by drainage over low lying areas.

Thunderstorm
In general, a local storm produced by a cumulonimbus cloud, and accompanied by lightning and thunder, usually with strong wind gusts, heavy rain and sometimes hail. A cumulonimbus cloud is a cauliflower-shaped cloud that has a height taller than or equal to its width.

Tornado
A violently rotating column of air that comes in contact with the ground, many times, descending from the base of a severe thunderstorm. Tornadoes are usually funnel-shaped with the narrow end nearest the ground. In Ohio, most tornadoes are obscured by hills, trees and rain.

Tornado Facts and Safety Tips

Tornado Facts
As the severe weather season approaches, take some time during Severe Weather Safety Awareness Week to make a safety plan for your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Planning ahead will lower the chance of injury or death in the event severe weather strikes.
Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms. They are usually preceded by very heavy rain and/or large hail.  A thunderstorm accompanied by hail indicates that the storm has large amounts of energy and may be severe. In general, the larger the hailstones, the more potential there is for damaging winds and/or tornadoes.
The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths have exceeded the width of one mile and 50 miles long. Tornadoes generally move from southwest to northeast, but have also been recorded traveling in any direction. The forward speed of a tornado varies from 30 mph to 70 mph.
Even though Ohio has had tornadoes in November, the peak tornado season for Ohio is generally April through July. Tornadoes usually occur between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., but have been known to occur at any hour.
Tornado Safety Tips
Whether practicing in a tornado drill or sheltering during a warning, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages Ohioans to DUCK!

  • D - Go DOWN to the lowest level
  • U - Get UNDER something
  • C - COVER your head
  • K - KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
  • The safest place to be during a tornado is a basement. If the building has no basement or cellar, go to a small room (a bathroom or closet) on the lowest level of the structure, away from windows and as close to the center of the building as possible.
  • Be aware of emergency shelter plans in stores, offices and schools. If no specific shelter has been identified, move to the building's lowest level. Try to avoid areas with large glass windows, large rooms and wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
  • If you're outside, in a car or mobile home, go immediately to the lowest level of a nearby sturdy building. Sturdy buildings are the safest structures to be in when tornadoes threaten. Winds from tornadoes can blow large objects, including cars and mobile homes, hundreds of feet away.
  • If there is no building nearby, lie flat in a low spot. Use your arms and hands to protect your head. It is not safe to seek shelter under highway overpasses and bridges.
  • Take responsibility for your safety and be prepared before a watch or warning is issued. Meet with household members to develop a disaster plan to respond to tornado watches and warnings. Conduct regular tornado drills. When a tornado watch is issued, review your plan – don't wait for the watch to become a warning. Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
  • Despite Doppler radar, tornadoes can sometimes occur without any warning, allowing very little time to act. It is important to know the basics of tornado safety. Know the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings.

Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts.  NOAA broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information, 24 hours a day.  NOAA Weather Radio is not just for emergencies but is a round-the-clock source of weather reports and information to help prepare for the day ahead.
Broadcasts are found in the public service band at frequency 162.400 (MHz).   You can purchase a NOAA weather radio at electronic or department stores.
If a tornado should strike, keep track of the storm by listening to a radio station that broadcasts for the Emergency Alert System.  In Huron County, those stations designated as Emergency Alert System stations are WLKR, Norwalk-Milan, 95.3 FM, and WOHF, Bellevue, 92.1 FM.
You should also tune into the Weather Channel or your local cable television news channel.

  • NOAA Weather Radio has available an alerting tool for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments. Some weather radio receivers can be connected to an existing home security system, much the same as a doorbell, smoke detector or other sensor. For additional information, visit: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/special_need.htm.

Thunderstorm/Lightning Facts & Safety Tips

Thunderstorm/Lightning Facts
Summertime is the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena - lightning. According to the National Weather Service, during the past 30 years, approximately 67 people in the United States are killed by lightning each year, which is more than the average number of people killed annually by tornadoes or hurricanes.
Lightning Safety Awareness: Education is Key
Few people really understand the dangers of lightning. Many do not act promptly to protect themselves because they don't understand all of the dangers associated with thunderstorms and lightning. People need to become aware of the behavior that can put them at risk of being struck and know what they can do to reduce that risk.
Lightning Discharge: Stay Out of Its Path
During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud-to-ground lightning is a potential killer. The determining factor on whether a particular flash could be deadly depends on whether a person is in the path of the lightning discharge. In addition to the visible flash that travels through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge travels along the ground.
An Approaching Thunderstorm: When to Seek Shelter
Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm, which is about the distance one can hear thunder. To be safe, remember: If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance. Seek shelter immediately! If the sky looks threatening, take shelter before hearing thunder.
The 30-30 Rule
Use the 30-30 rule where there is good visibility and nothing is obstructing your view of the thunderstorm. When you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If that time is 30 seconds or less, the thunderstorm is within six miles and is dangerous. Seek shelter immediately. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before leaving shelter.
Things to Avoid While Sheltering Indoors
People should stay away from windows and doors and avoid contact with anything that conducts electricity, which include using telephones (corded and cordless) during storms. Cellular telephones are the safest to use during thunderstorms.   Do not shower, bathe or wash dishes during thunderstorms. Water is an electrical conductor; you should avoid contact with plumbing.
Helping a Lightning Strike Victim - If a person is struck by lightning, medical care is usually needed immediately to save the person's life. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns and nerve damage are typical life-threatening injuries when a person is struck. Knowing first aid measures, which include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), can help lightning-strike victims survive. American Red Cross chapters and local fire departments often offer first aid and CPR classes.
Shelter from Thunder and Lightning Storms
Safe Shelter from Storms
A house or other substantial building offers the best protection from lightning. For a shelter to provide adequate protection from lightning, it must contain a mechanism for conducting the electrical current from the point of contact to the ground. These mechanisms may be on the outside of the structure, or contained within the walls of the structure, or a combination of the two. On the outside,  lightning can travel along the outer shell of the building or follow metal gutters and downspouts to the ground. Inside, lightning can follow conductors such as electrical wiring, plumbing and telephone lines to the ground.

Unsafe Sheltering
Unless specifically designed to be lightning safe, small structures do little, if anything to protect people from lightning. Many small, open shelters on golf courses, parks and athletic fields are designed to protect people from rain and sun, but not lightning. A shelter that does not contain plumbing or wiring throughout, or some other mechanism for grounding from the roof to the ground is not safe. Small wooden, vinyl or metal sheds offer little or no protection from lightning and should be avoided during thunderstorms.
Stay Safe While Inside
Corded telephone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States. Lightning can travel long distances on phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas. If you must use a phone during a storm, a cellular phone is safest. Stay away from windows and doors, as these can provide the path for a direct strike. Basements are generally safe places to go during thunderstorms, but avoid contact with concrete walls that may contain metal reinforcing bars. Also, avoid washers and dryers because they have contacts with plumbing and electrical systems and contain an electrical path to the outside through the dryer vent.
Protect Your Pets
Outside dog houses are not lightning-safe. Dogs that are chained to trees or wire runners can easily fall victim to lightning strikes. You may want to consider bringing your pets inside the home or garage during thunderstorms.
Protect Personal Property
Lightning generates electrical surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors WILL NOT protect equipment from a lightning strike. Before a thunderstorm threatens, unplug any unnecessary appliances and electronic equipment from conductors.
For more information on lightning safety and education, visit the National Weather Service Web site at http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov, and the Lightning Protection Institute Web site at http://www.lightning.org.

Flood Facts and Safety Tips

Flood Facts and Safety Tips
Flooding is Ohio's number one natural disaster occurrence. Floods and flash floods can happen during any season, at any time. In fact, in June of 2006, Huron County was granted federal disaster declarations for severe flooding.
Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms or winter snow thaws. Floods can be slow or fast-rising, but generally develop over a period of days. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. Flash flooding can occur with little or no warning and can reach its peak in only a few minutes.
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Emergency Information
Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. The force of six inches of swiftly moving water can knock an adult person off his or her feet. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area and seek shelter on higher ground.
Flash flood waters move very quickly and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and obliterate bridges. Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground.
Just two feet of moving water can float and carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks. You can protect yourself best by being prepared and having time to act.
Before a Flood

Check with your local floodplain administrator to determine if you live in a flood-prone area or visit the FEMA Flood Map Store at http://www.fema.gov/nfip/fmapinfo.shtm to review the flood map for your property online.   

Consider installing check valves in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
Plan and practice an evacuation route.
Have disaster supplies on hand.
Develop an emergency communication plan.
Make sure all family members know how to respond in case of a flood.
During a Flood Watch

Listen to a radio or television for the latest storm information.   Be prepared to evacuate.

Fill bathtub, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.

Move valuable household possessions to upper floors or to safe grounds if time permits.
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If you are instructed by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.
During a Flood Warning

Evacuate areas that are subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.  

If driving, be aware that the road bed may not be intact under flood waters. Turn around and go another way.
NEVER drive through flooded roads or low water crossings. If your vehicle stalls, leave it and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising waters may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.  

If camping, choose camp sites along waterways with care. Remember that storms that are miles away could bring raging water your way.

If indoors, turn on a battery-powered radio or NOAA Weather Radio to get the latest emergency information. If your area is advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.  Listen to a battery powered radio for instructions.   Follow recommended evacuation routes. Shortcuts may be blocked.
After a Flood

Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe.  

Remember to help those who may require special assistance: infants, young children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Before entering a flood-damaged building, check the foundation for cracks and inspect porch roofs and overhangs to be sure they are adequately supported. Ask a building inspector to check the house before you go inside.

Be alert for gas leaks. Do not strike a match or use open flame when entering a building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area ventilated.

Do not use appliances/motors that were flooded unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.

Don’t let children drink or put toys in flood waters. Don’t allow your children to play or swim in flood waters. If your child shows any signs or symptoms of illness after being in flood waters such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, contact your physician as soon as possible.

If a person receives a cut, burn or puncture wound, make sure it does not come in contact with flood waters. Flood water may contain various bacteria, viruses and other infectious organisms that may cause disease. Flood water may also contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems. If you are concerned about an injury, check with your physician to see if a tetanus booster is necessary.


Cleanup
Mold is a likely problem in flooded homes.  It is important to remove all water and fix any leaks before cleaning. Clean hard surfaces with a solution of bleach and water; make sure to ventilate the area when using chlorine bleach. Wear a filter mask and gloves to avoid contact with the mold. Let the bleach and water sit for 15 minutes and then dry the area thoroughly. Wet, porous materials, such as carpeting, wallboard, insulation, wallpaper and furniture should be discarded because they remain a source of mold growth.
Use fans and dehumidifiers to air and dry out the home. If possible, open doors and windows. 
Food Safety
Food that comes in contact with flood water can also pose a serious health risk.  Throw away any product if there is any doubt about its safety.
Throw away home-canned goods if the tops have been exposed to flooding. Food in paper containers, cloth or cardboard packaging that has been exposed to flood water should also be discarded, along with soft drinks and condiments using capped containers.
Store-bought canned goods may be saved if they are disinfected prior to opening. Label the can with a waterproof marker, remove the paper label and wash the can thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Rinse well; after washing and rinsing, disinfect can by soaking it for five minutes in a chlorine solution using one tablespoon of bleach (labeled 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) for each gallon of cool water.
Water Safety
If you have a private well, run cold water for about 30 minutes to allow the well to recharge naturally. Do not save the water. Have the well disinfected and tested before drinking or using for cooking. If you must use tap water, boil it vigorously for at least one minute. If you cannot boil it, add 16 drops of bleach to each gallon of water. Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for 30 minutes. This method should be used only with water that is clean in appearance and free of odors.
Flood Terminology
Flood – A condition that occurs when water overflows the natural or artificial confines of a stream or body of water, or accumulates by drainage over low-lying areas.
General River Flooding – follows heavy rain, snow melt or their combination. While river flooding typically occurs slowly, allowing more time to take protective measures, extreme flash flooding or a breakup of an ice jam along a river can produce more rapid river rises.
Urban and Small Stream Floods – occurs when heavy rain falls, resulting in flooded streets, underpasses or drainage ditches in urban areas, and creeks in rural areas. Not usually life-threatening on its own, but can be, if motorists drive through a flooded roadway or children play near a storm drain or drainage ditch.
Flash Floods – Rapid and life-threatening floods from heavy rains occurring in a short period of time, usually in hilly or mountainous areas, or produced by the failure of a dam.
Flood/Flash Flood Watch – Usually issued for several hours indicating that conditions are favorable for possible flooding or flash flooding.
Flood/Flash Flood Warning – Issued when flooding or flash flooding is imminent or occurring. This indicates a need to take protective measures.

Winter Severe Weather Safety Information

If the snowstorm is severe, stay indoors if at all possible. Don’t jam phone lines -- save them for emergency use. Listen to weather bulletins and information from state and local authorities.

 

Winter Severe/Hazardous Weather Terms

Know these winter storm terms:

Winter Storm Outlook
Issued prior to an official Winter Storm Watch. The outlook is given when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible. This is usually issued 48-72 hours in advance of a winter storm.

Winter Storm Watch
Alerts the public to the potential for blizzard conditions, heavy snow, significant icing or a combination of these events. Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm.
Winter Storm Warning
Issued when a combination of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet is expected to occur. Winter storm warnings are usually issued six to 24 hours before the event is expected.
Heavy Snow
Around six inches of snow in 12 hours or less across northern Ohio, and four to five inches in 12 hours across central and southern Ohio; or around eight inches or more of snow in 24 hours or less across northern Ohio and six inches or more of snow in 24 hours across southern Ohio.
Significant Icing
Usually, an ice accumulation of ¼ inch or more from freezing rain, an accumulation of ½ inch or more of sleet, or a combination of freezing rain and sleet.
Blizzard Warning
Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities below ¼ mile. These conditions should persist for at least three hours.
Heavy Snow Warning
Six inches or more of snow in 12 hours or less or around eight inches or more of snow in 24 hours or less across northern Ohio.
Snow Advisory
Three to five inches in 12 hours or less will trigger an advisory for northern Ohio, while two to 3 inches will trigger an advisory in Central and Southern Ohio.
Freezing Rain, Freezing Drizzle Advisory
Any accretion or accumulation up to 1/4 inch.
Blowing and Drifting Snow Advisory
Issued when blowing snow will restrict visibility to 1/4 mile or less and cause significant drifting snow.
Winter Weather Advisories
Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle and sleet that will cause significant inconvenience and moderately dangerous conditions.
For snow – Three to five inches in 12 hours or less will trigger an advisory for northern Ohio, while two to three inches of snow will trigger an advisory in central and southern Ohio.
For freezing rain, freezing drizzle – Any accretion or accumulation up to ¼ inch.
For blowing and drifting snow – When blowing snow will restrict visibility to ¼ mile or less and cause significant drifting snow.
Dense Fog Advisory
Issued when widespread fog will reduce visibility to ¼ mile or less.
Wind Chill Advisory
Issued when severe wind chill temperatures are expected

What is Wind Chill Temperature?
It is the temperature it "feels like" outside and is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate causing skin temperature to drop. Wind Chill does not impact inanimate objects like car radiators and exposed water pipes, because these objects cannot cool below the actual air temperature.

What does this mean to me?
The NWS will inform you when Wind Chill conditions reach critical thresholds. A Wind Chill Warning is issued when wind chill temperatures are life threatening. A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when the wind chill temperatures are potentially hazardous. These hazardous wind chill temperatures could lead to life-threatening situations, if caution is not exercised.

When are Wind Chill Warnings and Wind Chill Advisories issued?
The National Weather Service issues wind chill advisories when the wind chill temperature reaches -10° F to -24° F for more than a few hours with winds of 10 mph or greater. Wind chill warnings are issued when wind chill temperatures reach or exceed values of -25° F and colder for more than a few hours with winds of 10 mph or greater.

 

 

The Huron County Emergency Management Agency would like to remind all citizens to take the time to be prepared and protected in the event of severe winter weather.   Be prepared.  No matter the incident, have enough food, water and supplies to sustain every member of the household for 72 hours.  Store the kit in an easy to carry container such as a backpack or duffle bag.  

Home Protection Tips

Remove dead tree branches. Ice and snow, combined with winter winds, can cause limbs to snap, creating a hazard to homes, cars, and passersby.    Clean gutters. Snow and ice can build up quickly, especially if your gutters are clogged with leaves and debris. When thawing begins, the water has nowhere to drain and can back up under your roof and eaves, causing wall and ceiling damage. Consider buying screens to keep your gutters debris-free.

Check your homeowner's insurance policy to make sure coverage is adequate.   During extreme cold weather, power outages, or blizzards, wrap water pipes with newspapers or blankets; each provides additional insulation and can help prevent the pipes from bursting. If you have water pipes on the outside of your residence, surround the pipes with bales of hay so that the outside pipes do not freeze.  Never set the thermostat below 55 degrees when your home is unoccupied. 

During winter, drain pipes if your power goes off or if you plan an extended stay away from home. To drain, turn off the water heater and main water supply, open all faucets in the house and drain the system by keeping the valves open. Drain all toilets by holding the lever down until the tank empties.    If well water is used, the pump’s electric switch should be shut off and the pressure tank and system should be drained.

Make sure auxiliary heaters and fireplaces are adequately maintained and serviced. Many fires related to auxiliary heating sources are preventable through simple maintenance. Before installing a wood-burning stove, check with local fire officials as to codes and proper installation techniques. Do not store kerosene in a non-approved container or in your home and be sure to keep alternative heat sources from flammable materials (walls, curtains, etc.). 

Winter Fire Safety Tips:    During last year’s holiday season in Ohio, 18 people died in 2,003 residential fires. These same fires also produced $24.3 million in losses. Follow these fire prevention tips to help keep your family safer during the winter months.
Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  By providing early warning of a fire, smoke detectors add additional seconds that can make the difference between life and death.   Install a smoke detector on each level of your home and outside each sleeping area.  Test the detectors once a month and
change the batteries at least once per year (a good reminder is when we set our clocks backward an hour every October).   Develop and escape plan with two ways out of each room.   Practice your fire escape plan with your family and include a night-time drill.   Don’t use your oven or stove to heat your house.   Smoking related fires are the number one cause of fire fatalities in Ohio;  make sure all cigarettes are properly distinguished.   Keep matches and lighters up high out reach of children.
Heating equipment fires are the second leading cause of fire deaths in American homes and the biggest fire culprit December through February. Here are some specific fire prevention tips to keep in mind when heating your home:

PORTABLE AND OTHER SPACE HEATERS: Portable and space heaters can be fueled by electricity, natural
gas, liquid or solid fuel. All must be kept at least three feet from anything that can burn, including furniture, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Space heaters should not be left on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep. Children and pets should be supervised when space heaters are in use. If you are using a kerosene heater, make certain the wick is cleaned and adjusted according to the manufacturer's specifications. Review operating and safety instructions. If you have a liquid-fueled space heater, use fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel because the wrong fuel could cause a serious fire. When refueling, turn off the heater and cool it down before adding fuel. Ensure everyone is aware of the high fire hazard associated with drying clothing or placing combustibles over heaters.

FIREPLACES AND WOOD STOVES:  Be sure to annually replace the batteries in carbon monoxide                
detectors.   Prior to the start of winter, have your chimney inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause chimney fires. To reduce the buildup of creosote in your chimney, you should burn only dry, seasoned wood and avoid slow burning, smoky fires. Always use a fireplace screen. Light a fire using only a small quantity of paper and kindling. Never use flammable liquids to kindle a fire. Create a three-foot safety zone around your stove. Keep furniture, clothing and anything else that can burn at least three feet away. Never leave small children in a room where a wood stove is in use. Wood stove users should dispose of ashes in metal containers with tight-fitting lids and set the container only on a noncombustible surface. Never dispose of ashes in a trash container.

 

Holiday Time

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means cooking, lots of entertaining and an increased risk of fire.   Follow these prevention tips to help keep your family safer during the holidays:

Holiday Cooking:  Cooking is the number one cause of fires in homes.   Most residential fires occur between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.    Do not leave cooking food unattended.   If you must leave, turn off the stove and oven.   Do not put any combustible materials such as towels, pot holders, napkins, etc. near any heating appliances.   Do not attempt to move a pan of grease that is on fire.   Put a lid on the pan and turn off the heat source or use an ABC fire extinguisher.   Alert the household so evacuation can begin.   Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.   Do not leave pot handles sticking out for small children to grab or adults to knock over.   Turn the handles toward the back of the stove.

Holiday Lighting and Christmas Trees:  Follow these precautions for safe decorating:
Be sure candles are placed in sturdy, non-combustible holders and are kept well away from decorations and other combustible materials.
Under no circumstances is it safe to use candles to decorate Christmas trees. 
Be sure all candles are extinguished before going to bed.  Candles, as well as matches and lighters used to ignite them must be kept far from the reach of children. 
Inspect your decorative electric light sets.  Replace any that are found to have cracks, breaks, or loose wires. 
Use only light sets labeled for outdoor  use outdoors. 
Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the home.  
Use only battery operated lights on  metallic trees as electric lights on metallic can cause electrocution..  
Check the manufacturer instructions to see how many lights can safely be connected to each other.  
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant decorations to trim a tree.  
Choose a fresh tree and put it in a stand designed not to tip.
Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. Most Christmas tree fires happen late in the Christmas season after the trees have dried out. 
If using a live tree in your home, remove it soon after Christmas before the needles become dry. 
If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire retardant. Replace any frayed or damage cords.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, burning charcoal and wood and heating systems.

Carbon monoxide is commonly known as "the silent killer." When a person breathes air that contains carbon monoxide, it is absorbed through the bloodstream, displaces oxygen and inhibits the bloods ability to carry
oxygen to vital organs such as the heart and brain. Each year, more than 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, several thousand individuals are treated in hospital emergency rooms for carbon monoxide poisoning.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. High levels of carbon monoxide ingestion can cause loss of consciousness, coma and death. Unless suspected, carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Precautions:

  • Carbon monoxide can be easily and cheaply detected in the home; several relatively inexpensive alarms are available. Consider placing a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home.
  • Have the heating system inspected and serviced at least once a year.
  • Have your chimney vent checked annually for blockages, corrosion, loose connections or debris.
  • Ensure that chimney flues are completely opened when fireplaces are in use.
  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted and serviced.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Never use a gas or charcoal grill inside your home or in a closed garage.
  • Don’t sleep in any room with a non-vented gas or kerosene space heater.
  • During a power outage, make sure your generator is operating in a well-ventilated area.
  • Never leave a car or generator running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

Winter Health and Safety Tips

Winter's various dangers to people can occur suddenly, like a heart attack while shoveling snow, or slow and stealthily like carbon monoxide poisoning. Hypothermia and frostbite are always a concern, especially for the elderly and for people with chronic health conditions. The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Aging offer these safety tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter season.

Snow Shoveling Tips:    Snow shoveling can cause serious injuries or death to people who are elderly, have chronic health problems or are not used to strenuous activity.   
Wear sturdy shoes with rugged soles to help prevent slips and falls.
Never smoke while shoveling. Tobacco smoke constricts blood vessels just as cold air does; the combination could be dangerous.
If you become short of breath while shoveling, stop and rest. If you feel pain or tightness in your chest, stop immediately and call for help.
Have a partner monitor your progress and share the workload. If you have a heart attack, your partner can call for help and if trained, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives.
A shovel-full of dry snow can weigh about four pounds; wet snow can weigh significantly more. Warm up before shoveling by walking and stretching your arms and legs for a few minutes. Warm muscles are less likely to be injured and work more efficiently.
If you have a known health problem, use a snow blower or hire a snow removal service. Keep in mind, pushing snow blowers through heavy, packed snow can also present a health risk.

Frostbite Tips:  Frostbite is the most common cold-related injury. Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing of skin tissue. Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation, those who drink alcoholic beverages, the elderly and people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also show signs of hypothermia, as described previously. Hypothermia is a more serious condition and requires emergency medical assistance.
To prevent frostbite and hypothermia, it is important to dress warmly in layers of loose windproof clothing and to go indoors when you begin to feel cold. Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat. Don't forget gloves or mittens and a hat that covers the ears. Be sure the outer layer of clothing is tightly woven to reduce body heat loss caused by wind.

Frostbite occurs in three stages:   Early frostbite usually causes a reddening of the skin, followed by tingling and loss of feeling.    Hypothermia is Middle-degree frostbite causes the skin to turn white (or gray for darker skin).    Severe frostbite causes the skin to turn hard; gangrenous frostbite causes the skin to form blisters and blacken.

Hypothermia:    A drop in body temperature, often caused by staying in a cool place for too long is called. Each year in the United States, more than 700 people die of hypothermia.   Most of the victims were male and about 53 percent were 65 or older.

Long exposure when it's wet, windy and 30 to 50 degrees can be just as hazardous as dry, calm subzero weather. Wet clothes quickly draw heat from the body. In extremely cold weather, no one should participate in outdoor sports activities alone. Drink plenty of nonalcoholic beverages to stay hydrated in cold, dry air.

Hypothermia can occur even inside a building.    The thermostat should be set no lower than 65 or 70 degrees if the occupants are 75 or older.  

Who Is At Risk of Hypothermia and How Can It Be Prevented?
Infants younger than one year of age are at risk. They should never sleep in a cold room and should wear warm clothing and a have blanket to prevent loss of body heat.

Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder to feel when you are getting cold. It may be harder for your body to warm itself. Pay attention to how cold it is where you are.

If you don't eat well, you might have less fat under your skin. Fat can protect your body. It keeps heat in your body. Make sure you are eating enough food to keep up your weight.

People with serious mental illnesses, developmental or cognitive disabilities who may not hear temperature or
weather advisory warnings broadcast on TV or radio or may not fully recognize the significance of the cold weather warnings or who may wander are at serious risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Alcoholic drinks can also make a person lose body heat faster. People at risk of hypothermia should use alcohol moderately, if at all. They should not drink alcohol before bedtime when the temperatures become colder.

 

Winter Safety Tips For The Vehicle

Winterize your vehicle.  Get a tune-up to save wear and tear on its battery. Consider buying snow tires or chains for the tires, as your travel dictates. Chains would be best on glare ice.

Vehicle Care Tips:

  • Check the radiator for its coolant level and check the sturdiness of hoses and belts.
  • Refer to the vehicle’s manual to see if a lighter grade of motor oil is recommended for winter driving.
  • Check and replace all burned out headlights, tail lights and turn signals.
  • Ensure that each tire’s treads are one-sixteenth inch deep for adequate traction.
  • Ensure the vehicle’s brakes are in proper working order.
  • Keep a bottle of window washer fluid in the trunk and ensure wiper blades are in good working order.

Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. Poisonous gases filter into your vehicle if the pipe is clogged.

Winter-wise Driving Tips
Pay attention to weather reports on the radio. Allow time in your schedule for bad weather and/or traffic delays.
Become familiar with your vehicle's winter weather operating characteristics. Front-wheel-drive vehicles generally handle better than rear-wheel vehicles on slippery roads because the weight of the engine is on the drive wheels, improving traction.

 

Keep your windows clear of snow and ice. Remember to clean head, tail and brake lights.
If you need to turn on your wipers, you need to turn on your headlights.
Bridges become slick and icy before roads. Bridge temperatures can be five to six degrees colder than roadways, so drive with extreme caution during freezing temperatures.
Keep your gas tank at least half full. Fill the tank before you park for lengthy periods. This will help prevent fuel line freeze-up.
Leave ample stopping time between you and the driver in front of you. Braking distance can be up to nine times greater on snowy, icy surfaces than on dry roads.
If your vehicle is equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), be sure to: STOMP - firmly depress the brake pedal. STAY on the brakes - do not pump the brakes. STEER where you want the vehicle to go.
During winter travel, it is best to supply those at your destination with the following information: your cell phone number, departure time, travel route and anticipated arrival time.    If your vehicle locks freeze, heat your key. Do not pour hot water on the locks - they will refreeze.    If you become stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm, it is best to remain inside your vehicle. At most, you will have guaranteed shelter. Other safety tips include:

  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna, driver-side door handle or outside mirror.
  • Have a charged and ready cell phone to call for help in case you become stranded.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. Poisonous gases filter into your vehicle if the pipe is clogged.
  • Run your engine and heater no more than ten minutes every hour. Crack open a window for ventilation when the engine is running.
  • Light a flare to let people know you're stranded in the vehicle.
  • Use floor mats, seat covers and blankets for added warmth. If you must leave your vehicle during a blizzard, secure a lifeline of rope or cord to your car to avoid becoming lost or disoriented.
  • Keep bottled water in the car or melt snow in a coffee can for drinking water. Eating snow will only lower your body temperature.
  • Remain calm. Chances for rescue are better if you remain calm and in your vehicle.

 

Winter Vehicle Safety Emergency Preparedness Kit

  • Battery powered radio and extra batteries 
  • Flashlight or battery powered lantern and extra batteries 
  • Blankets or sleeping bags 
  • Booster (jumper) cables 
  • Fire Extinguisher (ABC type, 5 pounds) 
  • First Aid kit
  • Non perishable high energy foods (granola bars, nuts, raisins, cheese crackers)
  • Metal coffee cans to melt snow for drinking (bottled water may freeze)
  • Brightly colored cloth to tie to your antenna so you are visible to responders
  • Road/Emergency flares
  • Compass and road maps
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Shovel
  • Tire Repair Kit
  • Extra jacket, hat, gloves
  • Bags of sand or non clumping cat litter or rock salt
  • Tow rope or chain
  • Cell phone and charger or extra battery
 

HOW CAN I PREPARE A DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT?

Assemble supplies you might need to have in your safe-room or for an evacuation. Store them in an easy to carry container such as a backpack or duffle bag.

SUPPLIES YOU MAY NEED

  • Bottled Water (at least one gallon per day per person for 3 days drinking and sanitation)
  • Non perishable packaged or canned food and non electric can opener
  • Battery powered radio and NOAA weather radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)