Stay Safe During Winter Storms; Follow These Red Cross Severe Weather Safety Tips

The Red Cross urges people to take preparedness actions now and follow these winter storm safety tips.

* Be sure you have non-perishable food items that can be eaten even if you lose power.
* Keep a spare battery for your cell phone handy (also keep your phone charged). Make sure you have batteries in your radio (to receive information updates).
* Keep extra blankets on hand or identify a safe alternate heat source if the power goes out.
* Check the batteries in your flashlight(s) and keep them easily accessible (avoid candles).
* If you have pets, make sure that you have food and supplies for them and that they have access to a warm and dry area.
* For a full list of recommended kit items, visit

* If you are separated from your loved ones during the storm, make sure you have a plan for communicating with your family and/or friends to let them know you are safe and well.

Avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
* Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
* Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take and when you expect to get there.
* If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
* Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
* Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
If you become stuck in icy conditions:
* Stay with the car and call for assistance. Do not try to walk to safety.
* If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it — don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.

Prepare for power outages by following these safety tips:
* Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.
Using generators safely
* When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
* Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

Electrical equipment
* Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
* Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
* Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
Throw out unsafe food
* Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
* Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
* Throw out any foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to touch.
* For a full list of tips visit:

WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS Download the FREE Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at