The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.

 

Published November 21, 2018

Prepare ahead of time at home


LAKE OF THE OZARKS - It’s only November and the lake area has already had snow and temperatures in the teens. Will it get worse? Possibly, are you prepared for it if it does?

Missouri has had six ice storms over the last 16 winters that were so severe they led to federal disaster declarations.

A 2009 ice storm in southeast Missouri downed about 18,000 utility poles and led to power outages that lasted up to two weeks for some residents.

In February of 2011 central Missouri, including the lake area, received a blizzard with approximately 20 inches of snow in some sections.

No one knows what the 2018-19 winter will bring but now is the time to prepare.

The National Weather Service (NWS) the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Division of Fire Safety, the State Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety and Missouri’s local emergency managers encourage all Missourians to take the steps to be prepared for whatever this winter may bring.

Some of the severe winter weather preparations Missourians should consider include:
• Create a family home emergency plan and emergency kit. Emergency supplies should include bottled water, canned and dry foods, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, manual can opener and a first-aid kit. Whenever power outages are possible, charge cell phones and other devices in advance so you are able to communicate if power is lost. If cell coverage is ever weak, remember that text messages are the best way to get through.
• Assemble a separate vehicle winter emergency kit. Include a blanket, radio with spare batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, shovel and sand or cat litter to provide tire traction if you become stuck (see sidebar story).
• Know the risks of exposure to cold temperatures. Limit time spent outdoors in frigid temperatures and stay indoors, if possible. Protect against frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting clothing in several layers.
• Avoid driving whenever possible when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, make sure your emergency kit is in your vehicle, that cell phones are charged and emergency numbers are saved for fast dialing. Check on road conditions in advance on the MoDOT’s Traveler Info Map: http://traveler.modot.org/map/. If your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road, stay with your vehicle and call or wait for help. Remember, staying off roads gives snow removal crews time and space to clear them more quickly.
• Make sure alternate heat and power sources, such as fireplaces, woodstoves, kerosene heaters and generators function properly. These sources can be dangerous and must be maintained and operated safely. Keep the correct fuel for each source on hand in a safe location. Proper ventilation is essential. Properly install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home. Only operate generators outdoors. Ensure your generator will function when needed by running it periodically, as recommended by the manufacturer.
• Remember space heaters are dangerous and potentially deadly when misused. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These devices are supplemental heating sources and should be turned off when leaving a room or going to bed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from heating equipment. Never overload extension cords or electrical outlets. Spaces heaters should never be used in place of a primary heating system.

The National Weather Service has prepared a webpage with safety tips and information about winter weather and its impact: www.weather.gov/lsx/winterweathersafety.

The page includes explanations of weather terms like “wind-chill index” as well as information on generator safety and avoiding health and safety risks that come with frigid temperatures, snow and ice.

The MO.gov website includes a winter weather safety page that has additional information including safe winter driving techniques, avoiding injury when shoveling and other tips.

The page is available at www.mo.gov/winter-weather-safety/

Winter terms to remember:

• Winter Storm Watch – Severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.
• Winter Storm Warning – Severe winter weather is in the area or is imminent and could be life threatening.
• Ice Storm Warnings – Ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more are expected in your area.
• Blizzard: Blowing and/or falling snow with winds of at least 35 mph, reducing visibilities to a quarter of a mile or less for at least three hours. Winds lofting the current snow pack and reducing visibilities without any falling snow is called a ground blizzard.
• Freezing Rain: Caused by rain falling on surfaces with a temperature below freezing. The rain freezes upon contact with the ground. Large build-ups of ice can down trees and power lines and coat roads.
• Sleet: Rain/melted snow that has begun refreezing when it reaches the ground. Sleet tends to be softer than hail and is easily compacted. Sleet can make roads slippery very quickly.
• Wind Chill: The apparent temperature the body feels when wind is factored into the equation.

When driving, always prepare for the worse conditions, even if it doesn’t happen.

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