Our view: Winter Weather Awareness Week is here

Published 5:12 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This week is Alabama Winter Weather Awareness Week and offers the chance for Alabama citizens to recognize the severity of winter weather and the hazards surrounding it. While the frequency of extreme winter weather events is relatively small in Alabama, winter weather can cause death, injury, and property damage. With the start of each new season, preparation is the key to lessening the danger and hazards associated with winter weather.

In general:

Keep ahead of winter weather by listening to the latest weather warnings and bulletins. Be alert to changing conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.

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Check battery powered equipment, and stock extra batteries for flashlights and a portable television or radio. Also, check emergency cooking facilities.

Check your food and stock an extra supply. Your supplies should include food that requires no cooking or refrigeration in case of power failures.

Check your stove of heating fuel, but prevent fire hazards due to overheated coal or oil-burning stoves, fireplaces, heaters, or furnaces.

Stay indoors during storms and cold snaps. Elderly persons, children and those in bad health may be especially susceptible to cold weather.

Dress to fit the season. Loose, layered clothing will keep you warm. And a hat and mittens will protect your extremities.

Winterize your home by caulking around openings, installing storm windows, and adding insulation.

Don’t forget your pets or livestock. Move animals to sheltered areas. For pets, bring them indoors or provide some form or heat.

Get your car winterized before the storm season begins. Maintain a checklist of the preparation required. Keep water out of your fuel by keeping your gas tank full.

Carry a winter storm kit, especially if you plan cross-country travel or anticipate travel in northern states. Items to consider include a mobile phone and charger, blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights and batteries, first aid kit, non-perishable foods, extra clothing, window scraper, water, road maps, small shovel, and kitty litter, or sand for traction.

If the storm exceeds or even tests your driving limitations, seek available shelter immediately. Plan your travel and select primary and alternate routes.