Schlageck: Preparing for winter
If you're even a casual observer of weather, you know the East Coast was brutalized with the season's first round of snow and blinding winds that brought the New York state region to its knees.
And while winter isn't officially here yet, it won't be long. With the continual winds and strong gusts this late fall, this season may be a real doozy.
It's never too early to begin preparation for winter travel, and the trials and tribulations that may be associated with it.
If you're caught in a winter storm in a car or truck, stay with the vehicle. Disorientation occurs quickly in blinding, wind-driven snow and cold.
Run the engine 10 minutes each hour for heat. Open the window for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
Make yourself visible to possible rescuers by turning on the dome light at night while running the engine. Tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door and raise the hood of your vehicle indicating trouble after the snow stops falling.
Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
When you're at home or in a building and a winter storm hits, stay inside. Be sure to use proper fire safeguards and ventilation when running a stove, fireplace, space heater or other alternative heat.
If heat is not available, in the case of a power outage for example, close off unneeded rooms; cover windows at night and stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors. Better yet, install insulation strips before frigid weather arrives.
Always continue to eat and drink because food provides the body with energy for producing heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
What happens if you're caught on foot in a winter storm? How do you weather it out?
The first thing to do is seek shelter. Try to stay dry and cover all exposed parts of your body.
If there is no shelter, prepare a lean-to, windbreak or snow cave for protection from the wind. Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
The best plan to avoid such situations is to stay informed with the most up-to-date weather information. Forecasts and weather conditions change rapidly. Before traveling out on the roads or in harsh winter weather conditions, it is vital that you are current on what is happening in your area.
The most reliable way to keep track of winter weather, or any weather, is through NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio. Weather radio is operated and programmed directly from local National Weather Service offices.
The latest and most comprehensive information is available 24 hours each day, seven days a week. Other sources of weather information include your local radio and television stations, the weather channel and even more convenient weather news on your cell phone.
There's plenty of information available to keep anyone current on weather conditions this upcoming season. The key is to listen, stay informed and be prepared.
— John Schlageck is a commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas who was born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas.