You've seen, read, and heard all of the reports.  Winer has arrived and it is making it's presence well known.  Freezing temperatures, blizzards, flood warnings, high winds, and treacherous conditions are all coming if they haven't hit your area already.

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You know what's coming, but how do you prepare for it?  What do you need to do and/or have to weather not the proverbial, but literal storm.  The American Red Cross has been helping people navigate disasters since Clara Barton founded the organization in 1881.  The following are some helpful hints for navigating situations you may find yourself in.

If You Are Traveling In The Weather

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  • In your vehicle have a windshield scraper with a small broom, small sack of sand for traction under your wheels, a set of tire chains or traction mats, matches in a waterproof container and a brightly colored (red is best) cloth to tie to your antenna or other external area. Also carry an emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Make sure your gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Give your full attention tot he road and don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.  Avoid using cruise control.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
  • If you become stranded, stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards.

If You Have to Go Outside

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  • Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths.
  • Keep dry, if you get wet change your clothes to prevent losing body heat.
  • Avoid overexertion.  The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
  • If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. 

If Your Power Goes Out

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  • Use flashlights in the dark, not candles.
  • Don't go out unless absolutely necessary.  If your power is out there is a good chance traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested. 
  • If you are using a generator, use it safely, and understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate a generator in your home, garage, basement, crawl space, shed or other partially enclosed spaces, even if you have a fan or open doors and windows.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible and eat perishable food from the refrigerator first.  Perishables should have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to be safe to eat.
  • If the power outage will go more than a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.  Unplug appliances that were running when the power went out as when the power is restored they could be damaged from a surge.
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If you would like more safety tips on preparing for winter weather, visit Red Cross Northwest's page or check them out on social media.

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