The old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, just wait five minutes. Along with the ever changing weather conditions is the need to plan for those changes. The American Red Cross encourages everyone to prepare now for the possibility of bad winter weather.
“It’s always better to be prepared and not need it, than not be prepared and need it,” said Mark Ogle, Director, Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Center, American Red Cross.
Oklahoma winter storms can bring sleet, ice, snow, cold temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. High winds, heavy freezing rain, potential snow and black ice can make for treacherous driving conditions and potential widespread power outages. Because of rapid decrease in temperature and the corresponding use of various methods of heating, area homes are also at heightened risk of fire. The American Red Cross encourages area residents to keep the following traveling and heating safety tips in mind:
Avoid traveling by car in a winter storm, but if you must:
• Have emergency disaster supplies in the trunk, including blankets, snacks, extra sets of warm clothing, shovel, sand, tire chains, jumper cables, first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries and brightly colored cloth to tie to the antenna.
• Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergencies and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Check tire pressure and overall operating condition.
• Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive. If you car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
If you do get stuck:
• Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
• Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
• Start that car and just the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up into the car.
• As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
• Keep one window, away from the blowing wind, slightly open to let in air.
• Keep all potential fuel sources (newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs) at least three feet away from heat sources, such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.
• Provide constant adult supervision in rooms with lit candles or fires.
• Keep fire in the fireplace by using glass or metal fire screens.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
• If you must use space heaters, place them on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as a ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
For additional American Red Cross disaster safety and preparedness information, visit www.okredcross.org. To contact your local Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Center, please call (918) 343-1803, visit our office at 400 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore, or like us on Facebook at American Red Cross-Serving Rogers, Mayes, and Wagoner Counties.