Winter is coming. No amount of denial will change that fact, as evidenced by Clinton’s brief bout with snow Wednesday morning.
Thankfully, the snow disappeared as quickly as it came in. But, according to Chance Kness, director of Clinton County Emergency Management, it’s not too early to think about winter preparedness.
Kness said that last year’s winter should serve as a reminder to take Midwestern winters seriously.
“We experienced last year a blizzard severe enough that, at one point during the evening, we were unable to reach stranded motorists for a matter of hours,” Kness said. “People need to be monitoring the weather and be aware of the potential for weather like that.”
Cold, snow and ice are all potentially dangerous factors of winter. Kness said that area residents can take several steps to protect themselves against danger caused by inclement weather.
According to a release Kness distributes during the winter, residents should have a winter preparedness kit. Several items should be included with the kit, including rock salt or other products to melt ice or improve traction, snow shovels and adequate clothing and blankets for warmth. Families should have an emergency plan in place for any potential hazardous events. Communication avenues should be defined in advance, and parents could consider taking Community Emergency Response Team training.
Kness recommends that homes be prepared as well. Water pipes can burst in extreme cold, so families should know the location of valves. Fire extinguishers should be kept on hand, and checked for functionality. A home should also be well insulated.
Much of the danger residents face in winter comes from hazardous driving conditions. Kness said that a car needs to be well equipped to handle icy or snow-covered roads. Make sure antifreeze levels are acceptable, and check on the battery and exhaust system.
Heat and defrosting functions need to be in working order, as do the windshield wipers and emergency lights.
In case you become stranded due to inclement weather, make sure you have an emergency kit with blankets and supplies sufficient to survive multiple hours in your vehicle. Kness said rescue may not be immediately available.
“There’s a certain point where nobody can get to you,” Kness said. “It doesn’t matter how much we want to.”
If trips out in poor weather aren’t necessary, Kness recommends staying home and waiting it out. For more information on what you can do to prepare for winter, visit ready.gov or contact the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency.