Winter Preparedness Week

This is Winter Preparedness Week (November 14-20, 2010). As I write this, a major winter storm is moving through Minnesota and Wisconsin, so it is never too early to start preparing for winter conditions in Illinois.

Winter Storm Preparedness Guide

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has teamed up with the National Weather Service and the American Red Cross to develop a Winter Storm Preparedness Guide (pdf). It provides information on winter storms, forecast terminology, and how to plan at home, work, school, and while on travel.

Having survived 50 winters in Missouri and Illinois, here is my short list of things to consider:

  • be alert to the current weather and forecasts – my family and I spent one Christmas Eve in a hotel in Springfield IL because I underestimated the snowfall and overestimated the ability of other drivers to drive in the snow;
  • dress appropriately – invest in a good coat, warm gloves, boots, hat, and scarf, you will be better prepared (and happier) in cold and snowy conditions;
  • be flexible in your travel plans – go early, stay later, or don’t go at all to avoid severe winter weather;
  • be prepared to be stuck at home for a few days – keep up stocks of food, water, and any medications;
  • be careful with heaters and fireplaces – many home fires and carbon monoxide poisonings have been the result of improper operation of space heaters, fireplaces, or using inappropriate devices such as barbecue grills. Trust me on this one – my father-in-law was the fire chief so I heard all the stories.

History

As a historical footnote, the concept of a winter preparedness week started at the Illinois State Water Survey in response to the severe winters of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was done in partnership with the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Winter preparedness week was expanded through the National Weather Service, beginning around 1990.

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