Stay safe, stay warm

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The models are still a bit unclear, but meteorologists on Tuesday said they expect Hampton Roads to avoid the worst of the potentially historic winter storm that is brewing for Thursday and Friday.

Suffolk seems set to receive mostly rain from the storm, which in other parts of Virginia is expected to drop as much as a couple of feet of snow. If Tuesday’s forecast holds true, Peanut City would get a couple of inches of snow, at most, bookended by potentially huge amounts of rain.

Still, with much of the rest of the commonwealth already in pre-storm, pre-panic mode, now is a good time for folks here to review their winter safety plans.

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The American Red Cross offers the following tips to help you stay safe during extremely cold weather:

  • Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Avoid frozen pipes — run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing.
  • Be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. Work slowly, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
  • Don’t forget your pets — bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Avoid driving on snow-covered roads if possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional advice:

  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
  • Keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
  • Check the temperature in your home often.
  • Eat well-balanced meals to help you stay warmer.
  • Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors — the fumes are deadly.
  • Never use a generator inside the house, in the basement, in the garage, or near a window.
  • Infants younger than 1 should never sleep in a cold room, because infants lose body heat more easily than adults.

We’ve been fortunate to have relatively mild weather so far this winter. It’s probably too much to hope that it will remain that way. These tips will help make sure you’re ready.