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Winter weather preparedness week tips

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) encourages Hoosiers to use Winter Weather Preparedness Week, Nov. 10-16, as an opportunity to properly prepare for upcoming winter weather.

During winter, Hoosiers should always monitor local radio, TV stations and social media for weather updates. It is also important to understand the differences between watches, warnings and advisories:

Watch: Winter weather is possible.

Advisory: Winter weather will begin soon, but conditions are less serious than a warning.

Warning: Severe winter weather will begin soon.

The National Weather Service reports 36 Americans died due to cold weather in 2018. Prolonged exposure to bitterly cold temperatures increases the chances of cold weather illnesses like frostbite and hypothermia. Common symptoms of winter weather related illnesses include:

n Uncontrolled shivering

n Discoloration of the skin

n Fatigue

Winter Travel Safety

Winter weather creates hazardous travel conditions, and IDHS encourages Hoosiers to limit traveling during severe winter weather as much as possible. If driving is unavoidable, Hoosiers should consider:

n Downloading the County Travel Advisory Map in the App Store and Google Play Store to see county travel statuses from emergency management agencies across Indiana.

n Creating an emergency preparedness kit for every vehicle. A few suggested items for kits include blankets, non-perishable food, jumper cables and spare winter clothing.

n Schedule an appointment with a mechanic for a thorough check of each vehicle before a winter storm hits. Important items to have checked include brakes, the battery and tires.

Home Heating Safety

Alternative heating sources are popular during the winter, but are also one of the leading causes of house fires in the U.S. Indiana State Fire Marshal Stephen Cox urges Hoosiers using alternative heating sources to practice proper heating safety and maintenance:

n Home appliances, such as ovens, should never be used for heating. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

n Use only dry, seasoned wood in a fireplace or wood stove to avoid the buildup of creosote. Do not use artificial logs in wood stoves.

n Keep all flammable materials, such as draperies, blankets, bedding or upholstered furniture, at leastthree feet away from space heaters and other types of heating equipment.

Snow, ice, high winds and extreme cold conditions are also capable of causing power outages. If the power goes out during winter weather, follow these tips until professionals can make repairs:

n Gather warm blankets, sleeping bags and clothing layers to help household members stay warm.

n Insulate rooms with blankets or other barrier materials over windows and doors.

n Know how to determine if it is safe to travel and know where to go should the power go out. Identify a friend or family members house, or a nearby shelter.

For more winter weather preparedness information, visit GetPrepared.in.gov.