With winter weather ahead, Red Cross urges Rhode Island residents to be prepared

With winter weather ahead, Red Cross urges Rhode Island residents to be prepared

A strong nor’easter on Friday brought heavy rain and strong wind that caused significant damage along the shoreline. As another winter storm appears ready to bear down on southern New England, the American Red Cross is urging local residents to be prepared.

Rhode Island is expected to get potentially several inches of snow on Wednesday and into Wednesday night, as well as seeing wind gusts in excess of 50 mph and possible coastal flooding, according to the National Weather Service. Stefanie Arcangelo, chief communications officer for American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island region, said taking a few precautions can help prevent a serious issue.

“We want to remind people of the importance of being prepared in advance of a winter storm,” said. “This storm comes on the heels of severe weather this past week and we just want to remind everyone to prepare now and be safe."

The forecast as of 10 a.m. Tuesday called for less snow than initially predicted, although the shoreline is still expected to be battered by wind and inclement weather. The National Weather Service is calling for snow to begin as early as 5 a.m., with approximately an inch and a half expected over 24 hours. The precipitation is likely to include a mix of snow and rain.

The storm will include steady wind at 16 to 21 mph in the afternoon with gusts as high as 37 mph, according to the weather service.

In a press release, Arcangelo encouraged local residents to make sure emergency kits are stocked, devices are properly charged and everyone in the home is ready for cold weather. The organization also warns residents that a mix of snow and rain can be heavy, suggesting caution when removing snow from cars, driveways and walkways.

The American Red Cross suggests using the following preparation checklist to be ready, no matter what the storm may bring:

Assemble 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 for each family member. Sand or non-clumping cat litter is good to have on hand to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, make sure you have a first aid kit and a supply of 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.

Use Technology to Prepare and Stay Safe: Download Red Cross preparedness apps for your smartphone. Our free apps have tips and real-time information to help you prepare, as well as tools to help you keep in touch during and after a major storm. In particular, the First Aid App has a special section devoted to severe winter weather with preparedness tips and information about coping during and after the storm. Get the apps for iPhones or Android phones atwww.redcross.org/mobileapps

Heed Storm Warnings: 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. Stay tuned to local media to keep up with forecasts and additional warnings. A Blizzard Warning is issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours. 

Use Caution Clearing Snow: Shoveling snow is strenuous work; take the task slow and easy to guard against over-exertion or back injury. Take regular breaks. If using a snow thrower, keep hands and feet clear of moving parts. Always turn off your snow thrower and use a stick or other implement to clear blockages, never use your hands. If there is a fire hydrant on your property, clear snow around the hydrant so it is accessible in the event of a fire.

Tips for Home and Car:  Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which will help to keep the fuel line from freezing. When the storm has passed, completely clear snow from all surfaces of your vehicle. It’s safer for you and other drivers and it’s the law in Rhode Island. Be sure to keep furnace and gas dryer vents outside your home clear of snow to avoid the risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. If you lose power and heat, running water at a trickle from a faucet helps to prevent pipes from freezing.

Use Generators Safely: Never operate a generator inside homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces, even if using a fan or opening doors and windows. Carbon Monoxide (CO) can quickly build up in these spaces and linger for hours after a generator is shut down. Place your generator outside, well away from windows, doors and vents. Shut down the generator before refueling it. If you begin to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a portable generator, shut it off and get to fresh air immediately. You could have CO poisoning.

Use Care When Outdoors in the Cold: Dress in light layers so you can adapt to temperatures and wear a hat, most of your body heat is lost through your head. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear insulated, waterproof footwear. Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms. Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.  

For more information on winter storm preparedness, visit www.redcross.org.


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