Winter storm Jonas has passed over the East Coast and in its wake has left piles of snow you can’t see over, some flooding and lots of power outages that’ll last several days. Now what? You’ve already been stuck at home several days. This is the danger zone – the time when you could make some poor decisions in terms of the safety of you and your loved ones.
Several government agencies have issued guidelines to stay safe during storms, but few have said much about what to do when the storm passes. Here are our top tips to make sure you survive not only the storm, but the aftermath:
- Check on your elderly and ill neighbors, friends and family. If you haven’t seen them in several days or heard from them, they may need help and could be unable to ask. Don’t assume someone else has them covered.
- Check in with family outside the storm area to let them know you are ok.
- Understand the danger signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, shivering that stops the longer one is exposed to the cold, shallow breathing, slurred speech, weak pulse. Seek medical attention immediately. Find more information here.
- Keep your pets inside (except for bathroom breaks) – this actually should be the standard for winter pet care; if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them.
- Do not heat your home with your gas oven; not only are you running the risk of fire, you’re running the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or worse, especially if the pilot goes out.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- When the power comes back on, let your refrigerator run at least four hours before opening the doors to let it reach the proper temperature.
- Don’t taste food to figure out if it’s still good; when in doubt, throw it out.
- Shovel snow in short blocks of time, no more than 15 minutes at a time, especially if you’re out of shape or have been ill. Better yet, hire a neighborhood kid to do it for you.
- If you have a snow blower, offer to take care of the snow for your elderly and ill neighbors, friends and family; you could be saving a life.
- Don’t drive until the authorities have opened roads once again; going out before could put others in danger, especially if you find yourself stuck in an area where snow plows are working.
- If you have a health emergency, contact 9-1-1; don’t try to drive yourself. First responders have special training in dealing with weather emergencies and your loved one is more likely to arrive at the hospital safely if you let them do their jobs.
Just because the storm is over doesn’t mean the problems are over. Use common sense when thinking about going out of the house (no matter how stir-crazy you’re feeling).