Crews prepare for winter weather, Red Cross offers safety tips

Crews prepare for winter weather, Red Cross offers safety tips

(KFVS) - The American Red Cross and the Missouri Department of Transportation are working on preparing people as winter storms quickly approach.

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If you have to be out on the roads Thursday night and need to check road conditions, we have you covered.

In Missouri, you can call 888-275-6636 for the latest from MoDOT. The number for road conditions in Illinois is 800-452-4368 and in Kentucky, the number to check on roads is 866-737-3767.

The Red Cross recommends that people and families prepare for winter storms by:

Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit

Pack a winter-specific supply kit that includes a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing. Make sure you have a first aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.

Heeding Storm Warnings

A winter storm watch means winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions via local radio or television stations. A winter storm warning means that life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. Individuals in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

Preparing Your Home and Car

Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing.

MoDOT is carefully monitoring weather forecasts and preparing to plow and treat state routes as needed.

MoDOT urges drivers to be careful when commuting because even light precipitation can cause roads to become slick with ice or snow.

Remember the following tips when driving in bad weather:

  • Slow down.
  • Steer and brake gently.
  • Accelerate slowly at intersections.
  • Allow extra space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
  • Stay back 100 feet from snow plows that may be spreading salt.
  • Avoid passing snow plows, even when on a multi-lane road.
  • Be aware that bridges and overpasses generally experience freezing conditions first.

Click here for more information on winter storm preparedness.

For MoDOT's Traveler Information Map, click here. The map provides current road conditions for Missouri's interstates and major highways. Conditions for the routes are color coded.

MoDOT also provides road conditions information through its Customer Service Center, at 888-ASK-MODOT.

The Illinois State Police is urging drivers to take the necessary safety precautions before getting behind the wheel since vehicle safety is equally as important as driving safely. Extreme weather can have a devastating impact on driving conditions, especially when ice and snow are involved. Freezing rain, icy roads and white-out snow conditions can result in road hazardous for drivers of all ages. Illinois State Police officials urge motorists to drive with caution, and to allow extra travel time to get to and from destinations. When crashes occur during extreme weather conditions, the ISP encourages motorists to exchange insurance and driver information to keep motorists safe and the roads clear, unless medical attention is required. Motorists can file crash reports at the nearest ISP District within 10 days.

Listed below are a few safety tips from ISP drivers should keep in mind during the winter months:

  • Plan ahead and check the forecast - Determine if the trip is necessary during inclement weather.

  • Don't crowd the plow – Remember, a snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.

  • Watch out for black ice – roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, and shady areas – all are prone to black ice.
  • Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent the vehicle's fuel line from freezing.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather — Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
  • Make sure someone is always aware of your travel route.
  • Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
  • Always carry a cell phone.
  • Always wear a safety belt.

Drivers can check on interstate road conditions by contacting the Illinois Department of Transportation at 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or on the Internet at:

From the Marshall County, Ky. Emergency Management:

Individuals are encouraged to have a shelter-in-place plan or to seek shelter with family members or a friend. Activate these plans "before" the weather sets in to promote safety. Warming Centers will open for those in need, Friday morning unless otherwise determined necessary:

  • Benton Community Building - 7 a.m.
  • Calvert City Civic Center - 7:30 a.m.
  • Hardin Community Building - 7:30 a.m.

They ask that you please do not dial 911 to inquire about power restoration, shelter locations, etc. as this does impact processing of emergency calls. Public Inquiries can be directed to: 270-527-7221 (Business Hours 8a to 4:30p) or 270.205.8188 (After Hours). Emergency service agencies are on stand-by and will be monitoring this event as it moves forward.

Sikeston DPS is preparing for the worst in the event this storm is as bad as anticipated. Preparations are already being made for this afternoon's forecast of freezing rain and wintry mix. DPS, BMU, Sikeston's Street Department and other members of the city's government met today to make plans for this event.

With the freezing rain forecast the possibility for a power outage exists. They are hoping this weather event doesn't end up being like the 2009 Ice Storm. They are asking that you make any preparations ahead of time that you can for food, water and shelter in case this situation worsens.

Here are a few Generator Safety tips you should follow to keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

CO Poisoning:

  • Never use a generator indoors on in enclosed spaced (i.e. Garages, basements, crawl spaces)
  • Make sure a generator has three to four feet of clear space on all sides and make sure there is adequate ventilation.
  • Ensure generators are placed far away from doors, windows, and vents. This could allow carbon monoxide to enter the home.
  • Never use a barbeque grill in your home for heat.
  • Install a CO detector in your home and has fresh batteries.
  • Symptoms of CO poisoning are dizziness, headaches, nausea, and tiredness. If you believe you have CO poisoning, seek fresh air immediately and contact Sikeston DPS before you re-enter the structure.

Fire Safety:

  • Do not fuel your generator while it is running. Spilt fuel can ignite on the hot engine parts.
  • Do not store fuel inside your home and keep the containers away from the generator.
  • Never use Frayed or damaged extension cords and use the proper outdoor rated cords, ensuring the wire gauge is adequate for your appliance load.
  • Follow the owner's manual to properly setup and maintain your generator.
  • Keep an approved fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Don't overload your generator. Putting more of a load than your generator can handle can cause a fire and/damage your appliances.

The insurance industry offers the following tips to help protect water pipes from the cold:

  • Detach water hoses and store them indoors prior to the first freeze.
  • Use faucet covers or wrap rags, paper, trash bags or plastic foam around outdoor faucets and pipes for insulation.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • When extremely cold weather is forecast, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets that border outside walls to expose water pipes to warmer indoor air.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated space. Alternatively, consider turning off the shut-off valve while these faucets are running in order to drain the pipes and help avoid freezing.
  • If you leave town for more than a few days in winter, don't turn down the indoor thermostat too low.
  • In the event your pipes freeze, turn off your water at the shut-off valve.
  • Don't leave electrical appliances near frozen pipes.
  • Don't use high-risk techniques in an attempt to thaw frozen pipes. This can result in more substantial damage. If you try to thaw your own pipes, be careful. Think twice, you may need to call a professional plumber for assistance.

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