A few days before a “major winter storm” was expected to dump up to a foot snow on NJ (that is, if the storm system doesn’t veer eastward at the last minute), the state released its annual guide to surviving the weather.
“We’ve had bitterly cold weather this week and snow is in the forecast, so we want people to make sure they’re fully prepared for all that winter may bring,”
Make a Plan
- Make sure your Household Disaster Plan is ready and all members of your household are familiar with how to contact one another in an emergency.
- Winterize your Go Bag by adding a blanket, warm socks and gloves.
- Your Emergency Supply Kit should be fully-stocked to allow you to sustain yourself for up to three days without power, or in the event you are unable to travel far from home. You may wish to include additional items such as extra blankets, additional warm clothing, and a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio to monitor weather conditions during a storm.
Winterize Your Home
- Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clean out gutters; repair any roof leaks; and have a contractor check the stability of your roof in the event of a large accumulation of snow.
- Insulate walls and attic. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Install storm windows, or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
- Have safe emergency heating equipment available. For residences with functioning fireplaces, keep an ample supply of wood. Utilize portable electric space heaters. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Install and check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; you may have difficulty obtaining fuel in the immediate aftermath of a bad storm.
- Service snow removal equipment, and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways. Kitty litter can be used to generate temporary traction.
Winterize Your Car
- Make sure to have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:
- Windshield wipers and washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Lights (headlamps and hazard lights)
- Exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster
- Oil level (if necessary, replace oil with a winter oil or SAE 10w/30 variety)
- Install good winter tires that have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
- Regardless of the season, it’s a good idea to prepare for an in-car emergency. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit for your vehicle, and consider adding the following items for winter conditions:
- Blankets, sleeping bags, extra newspapers for insulation
- Plastic bags (for sanitation)
- Extra mittens, socks, scarves and hat, raingear and extra clothes
- Sack of sand or kitty litter for gaining traction under wheels, small shovel
- Set of tire chains or traction mats
- Working jack and lug wrench, spare tire
- Windshield scraper, broom
- Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Booster cables
- Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, flares or reflective triangles
Tips for Staying Warm
Exposure to cold can cause life-threatening health conditions. Avoid serious conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia, by keeping warm.
- When outdoors, wear warm clothing and cover exposed skin. Use multiple layers to maintain warmth.
- Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
- Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
- Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
- Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.
- Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
What to Do Before a Storm Strikes
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Know what winter storm watches and warnings mean.
- Check on relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need assistance preparing for a storm.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions and avoid unnecessary travel.
- Let faucets drip a little to help prevent freezing.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Know the Terms
- Freezing Rain: rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
- Frost/Freeze Warning: issued when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing over a large area for an extended period of time.
- Sleet: rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
- Ice Storm: when ice accumulations are expected during freezing rain situations. Significant ice accumulations are usually 1/4 of an inch or greater.
- Wind Chill: the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside.
- Heavy Snow: snowfall accumulating to 4 inches or more in depth in 12 hours or less; or snowfall accumulating to 6 inches or more in depth in 24 hours or less.
- Winter Weather Advisory: issued by the National Weather Service when a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) may present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.
- Winter Storm Watch: issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.
- Winter Storm Warning: issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.
- Blizzard Warning: issued by the National Weather Service for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to last for a minimum of 3 hours.
What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
Call GREEN APPLE MECHANICAL right away at (888) 611-7191
Take measures to trap existing warm air and safely stay warm until we come to you, including:
- Insulate your home as much as possible. Hang blankets over windows and doorways and stay in a well-insulated room while the heat is out.
- Dress warmly. Wear hats, scarves, gloves, and layered clothing.
- If you have a well-maintained working fireplace and use it for heat and light, be sure to keep the damper open for ventilation. Never use a fireplace without a screen.
- If the cold persists and your heat is not restored call family, neighbors, or friends to see if you can stay with them.
- Do not use your oven or fuel-burning space heaters to heat your home. These can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell.
- Open your faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.
Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.
Fire safety tips:
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every room. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
- Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day.
- Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
- Never leave children alone in the room where a space heater is running. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip. Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
- If you are going to use an electric blanket, only use one that is less than 10 years old from the date of purchase. Also avoid tucking the electric blanket in at the sides of the bed. Only purchase blankets with an automatic safety shut-off.
Carbon monoxide safety tips:
- Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. Therefore, make sure all fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors and operating properly. If you are not sure, contact a professional to inspect and make necessary repairs.
- Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Most homes and residential buildings in New York City are required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors installed near all sleeping areas. Owners are responsible for installing approved carbon monoxide detectors. Occupants are responsible for keeping and maintaining the carbon monoxide detectors in good repair.
- If you have a working fireplace keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
- Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven, charcoal barbecue grill, or kerosene, propane, or oil-burning heaters.
- The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are non-specific and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. Severe poisonings may result in permanent injury or death.
- If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911, get the victim to fresh air immediately, and open windows.
- If a carbon monoxide detector goes off in your home, call 911, quickly open a nearby window, and go outside for fresh air immediately.