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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Winter Storm Rolling In: Remember All Those Safety Tips?

Winter Storm Rolling In: Remember All Those Safety Tips?


January 28, 2009


The major winter storm impacting Maine today means it is time to put safety first. Can't remember those basic safety tips? Here's a reminder. For much more information on emergency preparedness in winter and all seasons, visit Maine Prepares.

The basics

  • Stay informed: Listen to your radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information as the storm progresses.
  • Check on you neighbors and friends who may need help weathering the storm.
  • To help stay warm, eat regularly and drink ample fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • If you lose power, and use a generator, use it ONLY outdoors, never in a basement or attached garage. Carbon monoxide kills.
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

If you are outdoors

  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.
  • Dress in layers -- air gets trapped in between layers of clothes and helps keep you warm. If you are exercising outside (whether it's shoveling or splitting wood), you can take off a layer, and then put it back on when you start to cool down.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly. Avoid cotton as your first layers, as it retains moisture; a synthetic that wicks away sweat works best next to the skin.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.

If you are driving

  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
    • Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
    • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Drive slowly and carefully. Maintain a safe distance behind other cars.
  • Watch out for "the other guy"

After the storm

  • Clear snow from your roof. We're getting a lot of it today, and the weight could damage your roof.
  • Clear snow away from all chimneys and vents, to prevent carbon monoxide buildup inside your house.
  • Clear snow away from outside fuel storage tanks, and the filler pipes for your oil tank
  • Offer to help neighbors and friends who may need help shoveling out

Enjoy the winter

Snow may not seem like a blessing while you're shoveling it, but this weekend, dress warmly, and get out to snowmobile, snow-shoe, cross-country or downhill ski. Maine in the winter is a beautiful place, and nothing beats cabin fever like getting outside and enjoying life.



Lynette Miller


Last update: 07/20/10