By Colin Foster
MIAMI COUNTY — Ohio may feel a little more like Antarctica over the new few days, with cold temperatures, high winds and heavy snow expected.
In fact, it is anticipated that millions of people from all over the Midwest and Northeast will experience the full arsenal of wintry conditions that Mother Nature has to offer — meaning people will need to be fully prepared for what’s ahead this weekend.
The Northern Miami Valley Red Cross is watching the storm closely and is prepared to respond if necessary. With the bad weather anticipated, the American Red Cross has released cold weather tips to help people be prepared. Extremely cold temperatures are expected over the next few days — and the winds will make it feel like it is below zero.
Here are some tips to stay warm during the winter storm:
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Wearing gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• After the storm, be very careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
• Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
• Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
• Don’t forget about your pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
• Avoid frozen pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
• Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
For Space Heaters, Fireplaces and Generators
Heating systems are running at full force this time of year and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, remember the following:
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – items such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
• If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
• Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
• Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
“We do a lot of prepardeness things, whether it be for winter storms, tornadoes, flooding or fires — we like to have information like that available for people living in our communities to be safe,” said R. Scott Miller, executive director of the Northern Miami Valley chapter of the American Red Cross. “A lot of these things are common sense, but a lot of these things are what people need to be reminded of the most.
“I think it’s very important (to follow these tips), especially if you’re traveling. I know (Thursday) morning, I left my house, I put my boots in my car, some extra clothes in my car and some other items, just in case I got stranded. I don’t think people can ever be too prepared — and that’s what we like to teach people. What if something happens, what could happen, and how could we deal with it? … That’s why we put this information out there.”
People can download the American Red Cross First Aid app for easy, expert advice on what to do in case of emergency. The free app is available on the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores. To view all Red Cross apps, visit redcross.org/moblieapps.