Blizzard / Extreme Cold Weather Preparedness
Before the Storm
- Winterize your home by covering your windows from the inside with plastic, opening cabinets where pipes exist and allow faucets to drip to avoid freezing.
- Winterize your vehicle and make sure your gas tank is full.
- Put together an emergency kit for your vehicle. A kit should contain the following:
- a shovel
- windshield scraper and small broom
- battery powered radio with extra batteries
- water and snack food
- extra socks, gloves and mittens
- first aid kit with a pocket knife
- necessary medication
- tow chain or rope
- road salt and/or sand
- booster cables
- emergency flares
- fluorescent distress flag
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
- Protect your lungs by covering your mouth.
- Change wet clothing frequently.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shaking, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
- If hypothermia exists:
- get the victim to a warm location
- remove any wet clothing
- place victim in dry clothing and wrap their entire body with a blanket
- warm the center of the body first
- give warm, non-alcoholic or non-caffeinated beverages only if victim is conscious
- get medical help as soon as possible
Trapped In Your Car During a Blizzard
- Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from window or antenna.
- Remain in your vehicle where rescuers will likely find you.
- Run engine and heater for 10 minutes each hour for warmth. When engine is running, crack open a downwind window. Periodically clear exhaust pipe from blowing snow.
- Use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
- Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
- Drink plenty of fluid.
- Be careful not to waste battery power.
- Turn on the interior lights at night so rescuers can find you.
- If in a remote area, consider spelling out the word HELP with rocks or tree limbs so rescue personell can spot you.
- If necessary, leave the car on foot once the blizzard has passed
For more information, read Winter Storm Preparedness Guide, presented by the Red Cross. For up to the minute winter road conditions in Illinois, go to the map set up by the Illinois Department of Transportation. (Available only from November to April.)