Winter Safety Awareness Week started Sunday and serves as a reminder for all Ohioans to take steps to be better prepared for winter before it’s too late.
In a coordinated effort, Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) recognize Nov. 17-23 as Winter Safety Awareness Week.
According to the annual National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Winter Outlook, warmer than average temperatures are forecast for much of the United States this winter. No part of the country is favored to have below-average temperatures this winter. Neither El Niño nor La Niña will have an influence on winter, which extends from December through February.
The OCSWA recommends the following winter preparedness tips:
Practice fire safety and prevention. With winter months and the holiday season, people are indoors more and cook, decorate and entertain more – which unfortunately, can lead to more home fires. The best protection is to have working smoke detectors in the home. Test your smoke detectors monthly. Conduct fire drills. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year. Have auxiliary heaters, furnaces and fireplaces checked or serviced before using. Cooking-related fires are the number one cause of home fires. Never leave cooking food unattended. Keep towels, potholders, and paper products away from the stove’s heat sources.
Prepare your home for winter. Remove and cut away low-hanging and dead tree branches. Strong winds, ice and snow can cause tree limbs to break and could cause damage to your home. Have your gutters cleaned. Snow and ice can build up quickly if clogged with debris.
Prepare winter emergency supplies kits for the home and vehicle. Check the expiration dates on nonperishable food items, bottled water/beverages and medications. Winter emergency kits should include flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, a battery-operated radio/weather radio, first aid kit, cell phone and charger, and enough nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person, per day) to sustain every household member for several days. Store food, bottled water and supplies for your pets, as well.
After severe weather or during prolonged power outages, check on your neighbors and family members – particularly those who are older or have functional needs – to ensure that they are safe, healthy and warm.
Also, as part of Winter Safety Awareness Week, OCSWA announces that Ohio students in grades 1-6, including individualized instruction classes, can draw and enter posters in its annual Severe Weather Awareness Poster Contest. Students have from now until mid-April to work on their posters that illustrate how people can protect themselves and others from the dangers and hazards that accompany severe weather in Ohio.
Submitted by David Bushelman, director, Highland County EMA Office.