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Find more about Weather in Bellingham, MA


 
Winter Storm Information

The Town of Bellingham Local Emergency Management Agency is recommending that the residents prepare for the current winter season.

A major winter storm can be lethal. Preparing for cold weather conditions and responding to them effectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.

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Winter Preparedness Safety Tips

Timely preparation, including structural and non-structural mitigation measures to avoid the impacts of severe winter weather, can avert heavy personal, business and government expenditures. Experts agree that the following measures can be effective in dealing with the challenges of severe winter weather:

BEFORE SEVERE WEATHER ARRIVES

Store drinking water, first aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark.
Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency kit in each.
Avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, do so during daylight. Don't travel alone. Stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule.
Get a NOAA Weather Radio to monitor severe weather.
Know how the public is warned (siren, radio, TV, etc.) and the warning terms for each kind of disaster in your community; e.g.:
"winter storm watch" --- Be alert, a storm is likely
"winter storm warning" --- Take action, the storm is in or entering the area
"blizzard warning" --- Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill--seek refuge immediately!
"winter weather advisory" --- Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists
Know how to contact other household members through a common out-of-state contact in the event you have to evacuate and become separated.
Know how to turn off gas, electric power and water before evacuating.
Know  in advance what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
Keep plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags and hand tools on hand and accessible.
Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow--or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
If you think you might want to volunteer in case of a disaster, now is the time to let voluntary organizations or the emergency services office know.

DURING ANY STORM OR EMERGENCY

Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio or keep a local radio and/or TV station on for information and emergency instructions.
Have your emergency survival kit ready to go if told to evacuate.
If you go outside for any reason, dress for the season and expected conditions:.
For cold weather, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots in snow or flooding conditions.
If advised to evacuate, tell others where you are going, turn off utilities if told to, then leave immediately, following routes designated by local officials.
Service snow removal equipment and have rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways and kitty litter to generate temporary traction.

Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.

Have safe emergency heating equipment available.

Fireplace with ample supply of wood
Small, well-vented, wood, coal, or camp stove with fuel
Portable space heaters – Unvented kerosene heaters are prohibited in MA
Install and check smoke detectors.
Install and check at least one carbon monoxide detectors

Keep pipes from freezing.

Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers.
Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
Know how to shut off water valves.

Have disaster supplies on hand, in case the power goes out.

Flashlight and extra batteries
Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
First aid kit
One-week supply of food (include items that do not require refrigeration or cooking in case the power is shut off)
Non electric can opener
One-week supply of essential prescription medications.
Extra blankets and sleeping bags
Fire extinguisher (A-B-C type)

Develop an emergency communication plan.

In case family members are separated from one another during a winter storm (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a severe winter storm.
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.

DURING  THE STORM

IF INDOORS
Stay indoors and dress warmly.

Conserve fuel.
Lower the thermostat to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night. Close off unused rooms.

If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags.
Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).

Listen to the radio or television to get the latest information.

IF OUTDOORS

Dress warmly.
Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.

Stretch before you go out.
If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks.

Cover your mouth.
Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.


Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Keep dry.
Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities.

Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95 (90?) degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

IF A BLIZZARD TRAPS YOU IN YOUR CAR

Pull off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely to find you there.
Conserve fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
In extreme cold use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run the battery down. In remote areas, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes.
Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
Once the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction.

AFTER THE STORM

Report downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
After blizzards, heavy snows or extreme cold, check to see that no physical damage has occurred and that water pipes are functioning. If there are no other problems, wait for streets and roads to be opened before you attempt to drive anywhere.
Check on neighbors, especially any who might need help.
Beware of overexertion and exhaustion. Shoveling snow in extreme cold causes many heart attacks. Set your priorities and pace yourself after any disaster that leaves you with a mess to clean up. The natural tendency is to do too much too soon.

Winter Driving
The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.

BEFORE THE STORM

Have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

Battery, Antifreeze, Wipers and windshield washer fluid, Ignition system
Thermostat, Lights, Flashing hazard lights, Exhaust system, Heater
Brakes, Defroster, and Antifreeze
Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)

Install good winter tires.
Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.

Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.

Plan long trips carefully.
Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.

Avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, do so during daylight. Don't travel alone. Stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule

If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.

Dress warmly.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.

Carry food and water.
Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water.

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.

Winter Car Kit

Keep these items in your car:

Flashlights with extra batteries, first aid kit with pocket knife
Necessary medications, several blankets  or sleeping bags
Extra newspapers for insulation, plastic bags (for sanitation)
Matches, extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
Rain gear and extra clothes, small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, small shovel, small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
Booster cables, set of tire chains or traction mats
Cards, games, and puzzles, brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
Canned fruit and nuts, non electric can opener, bottled water

DURING THE STORM IF TRAPPED IN CAR DURING A BLIZZARD

Stay in the car.
Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost  in blowing and drifting snow.

Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.

Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running.

Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia; do minor exercises to keep up circulation.

Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.

For warmth, huddle together.

Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.

Avoid overexertion.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to from 98 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.

Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

James L. Haughey
Source FEMA