By LESLIE COLLINS
January 15, 2014
With snow accumulation and below freezing temperatures, the city of Kansas City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is reminding residents about the importance of safety preparedness.
“It seems the past few years or so the winters have gotten more extreme. We’ve had record snow falls, and this season, extremely cold temperatures,” said Gene Shepherd of the Office of Emergency Management.
OEM created a winter safety checklist and Shepherd presented the checklist during the city’s Jan. 8 Public Safety and Emergency Services meeting. Below is a list of OEM tips.
•Check insulation and weather stripping. Place towels around the base of doors to ward off drafts and consider using plastic sheeting or energy efficient curtains to reduce heat loss through the windows.
•Drip your faucets and open cabinet doors surrounding pipes.
•Make sure you have an all-weather radio or other means of communication in the event of a power outage.
•Use snow tires or all-season tires with good tread.
•Check your antifreeze and make sure it’s a winter blend.
•Replace your windshield wipers, if needed, and fill your reservoir with the proper washing fluid.
•Keep your fuel tank full.
•Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes an ice scraper, broom, shovel, sand or kitty litter, extra warm clothing, food, water and blankets.
•Carry a cell phone and cell charger.
•If you become stuck, make sure snow or other debris is not blocking your exhaust pipe; blockage could cause carbon monoxide poisoning if your engine is running. Signs that carbon monoxide is present include feeling drowsy, dizzy or having a headache.
•Dress in layers: a base layer against your skin that wicks away sweat, a mild layer that provides insulation such as fleece, and an outer layer that’s wind and weather repellant. Wear gloves, a hat, warm socks and appropriate shoes or boots made for cold and icy conditions. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia.
During and after severe weather
•Check on neighbors, especially the elderly. Bring pets indoors if possible. If not, then provide warm bedding and shelter from the wind. Check on the water bowl periodically and replace the water so it doesn’t freeze.
•Use caution when using alternative heat sources. Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Keep combustables three feet away from heat sources and don’t use a space heater if no one is in the house or room.
•Clear sidewalks of ice and snow.
•Check with KCATA to verify bus schedules and find out which routes are running.
•Check current road conditions with the Missouri Department of Transportation at www.traveler.modot.org/map.
•Both the Kansas City Public Libraries and the city of Kansas City’s Community Centers serve as warming centers during the day. For a list of emergency shelters, call the United Way 2-1-1 Call Center by dialing 2-1-1.
Be prepared for any emergency
•Make sure you and your family have an emergency plan and ensure that everyone understands the plan.
•Create a list of emergency contact numbers, including someone outside of the area in case the phone lines are down.
•Keep a stash of needed medicines
•Create a 72-hour emergency kit that includes enough supplies for three days: one gallon of water per person, non-perishable food, medications, food and water for your pets, and other necessities.