The Buckeye State has already seen an array of weather this fall season to include warm weather, sweater weather with a few tornadoes, and snowflakes in between. Now is the time to start preparation for winter in the Midwest.
In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted have declared Nov. 14 – 20 as Winter Safety Awareness Week. The awareness effort encourages Ohioans to take action now to help minimize the potential risks associated with winter weather.
“Winter Safety Awareness Week is the ideal time for Ohioans to prepare for winter and cold weather-related incidents,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “Take time to restock your emergency supply kits, ensure your home and vehicles are prepped and maintained and review your emergency plans. Also, it’s not too late to get vaccinations to protect yourself and family from influenza and the coronavirus.”
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual U.S. Winter Outlook precipitation map, states in the Midwest including Ohio are leaning toward above-normal or wetter-than-average precipitation this winter.
NOAA also noted that La Niña climate conditions will continue for the second consecutive winter. La Niña is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator.
“We need to be mindful that preparing for winter is not just getting ready for snow and ice,” noted Merick. “Just last month, a total of six tornadoes touched down in Ross, Highland, and Pickaway counties. We truly need to be prepared for all weather and home emergencies.”
As we transition into the winter weather season, everyone is encouraged to prepare with the following safety tips:
• Practice fire safety and prevention. With the winter months, holiday season, and the continuing pandemic, people will spend more time indoors and will cook, decorate, and possibly entertain more which can lead to an increase in home fires. The best protection is to have working smoke detectors. Test your detectors monthly. Conduct fire drills.
• Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year – when you change your clocks, change your batteries. Have auxiliary heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces checked or serviced before using.
• Remember that cooking-related fires are the number one cause of house fires. Never leave cooking food unattended. Keep towels, potholders, and paper products away from heated stoves.
• Prepare your home for winter. Cut and remove low-hanging and dead tree branches. Strong winds, ice, and snow can cause tree limbs to break and cause damage to your home. Have your gutters cleaned. Snow and ice can build up quickly with debris if clogged and cause additional damage.
• 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 essential items such as 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. Lastly, store food, bottled water, and supplies for each of your pets.