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Preparing for weather emergencies

Paoli Hospital January 29, 2014 General Wellness

snow blower in usePreparing for winter means more than just a higher gas bill and warmer clothing. When severe weather hits, you’ll want to be prepared with the tools you need to keep yourself safe and warm in the event of an emergency.

“It’s important to be prepared for weather-related emergencies and similar situations before they happen,” says Lisa Eckenrode, trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator at Paoli Hospital. “In the midst of everything, the resources you need aren’t always available, and you don’t necessarily have the means to get them.”

Below, see what you should have on hand both at home and in the car in case of an emergency.

Your car

You should always keep a kit in your car for roadside emergencies but in winter, being prepared is even more important. Being stranded on the road is one thing, but being stranded on the road in bad weather and freezing temperatures is another. Prepare yourself with an emergency roadside kit that includes:

  • Bottles of water
  • Snacks like energy bars and nuts
  • A sleeping bag and blankets, a flashlight, and extra hats, scarves, gloves and heavy socks for passengers. A container of kitty litter or sand can also help with traction when digging out
  • If you can fit a shovel in the backseat, that can also help in digging out your car in an emergency.

If you are stranded in your car, Eckenrode suggests the following measures:

  • Stay in your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away
  • Stay visible to other drivers by putting a bright cloth on your antenna
  • Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hours
  • Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked with snow or ice

If severe weather contributes to an accident, Paoli Hospital and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Yellow Dot program can help. A sticker in the back windshield notifies emergency responders that your medical information is available in your glove compartment and provides them with necessary information, including emergency contact and your current medications. To receive your Yellow Dot safety kit, contact Eckenrode at 484.565.8328.

Your home

It might seem silly to have a winter preparedness kit in your home, where it seems like everything you’d need is available. But when you’re left without power or unable to leave home for a few days at a time, you’ll want to be prepared with a few things:

  • An alternative heat source like a kerosene heater or backup generator. Generators should be placed outside and at least 20 feet from your house, and a kerosene heater should be placed in a well-ventilated area
  • Non-perishable canned food items and bottled water
  • A charged cell phone in case of emergencies, or a car charger to use for your cell phone when the power is out
  • Flashlights and batteries. Look for flashlights that are powered by hand, so running out of batteries won’t leave you without light
  • Knowing the lay of the land. Make sure everyone in your house knows where the emergency shut-offs are for water and gas, as well as the circuit breaker.

Even for the most prepared households, weather-related emergencies can bring surprises or unforeseen circumstances. In the event that you or someone you are with needs medical attention, call for emergency medical help immediately. Paoli Hospital is Chester County's only hospital with a trauma center accreditation.