November 13 is Winter Weather Preparedness Day
Oklahomans urged to have a plan, be prepared
As we near the winter weather season, it’s a good time for Oklahomans to become prepared for freezing temperatures and the snow and ice that may accompany them.
Toward that effort, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM), Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), the National Weather Service (NWS), along with other state and local agencies have teamed together for Winter Weather Preparedness Day to share information designed to assist the public in being better prepared for the season.
Blizzards and ice storms of recent years are clear reminders of the need to prepare your home, automobile and family to deal with the colder temperatures, as well as the possibility for snow and ice. During past blizzards, record snowfall required stranded motorists to be rescued by the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local first responders.
“The experience of those stuck in the cold for long hours during the winter storm last February should drive home the need to always prepare,” said OEM Director Albert Ashwood. “Having a blanket, emergency food and water, a flashlight, a well charged cell phone and a full tank of gas would have made a big difference for many of those awaiting rescue on Oklahoma roadways,” Ashwood said.
If you must travel during a snow or ice event, allow extra time to reach your destination, and be particularly cautious on bridges and overpasses as they will be the first to freeze.
As drivers have seen during the past few winter seasons, travel conditions can rapidly change. Drivers who must travel in these conditions are urged to drive slowly during snow or ice storms and to plan extra time for their travel. ODOT crews report they are ready for this upcoming winter season.
It’s also important to protect your home. Adding weather stripping and insulation, keeping furnaces clean and ready to use, and being aware of cold temperatures and vulnerable pipes that might freeze mark just some of the actions that can help prevent major and costly winter weather-related damage.
Since 2007 alone, Oklahoma ice storms have been responsible for more than 70 deaths and power outages to more than 730,000 homes and businesses across the state. Infrastructure damage to the state, cities, towns and counties alone exceeded $300 million.
“By following some simple tips and monitoring your local weather during times of severe weather, Oklahomans stand their best chance at not becoming a victim,” said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS Office in Norman.
Information regarding hazardous winter weather, including watches and warnings, is available on the NWS website at http://www.weather.gov, on NOAA Weather All Hazards Radio and on local radio and television stations.
Find a full list of winter weather preparedness tips or sign up now to receive OEM’s weather alerts and receive NWS watches, warnings on your cell phone or other email address at http://www.ok.gov/OEM/.