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Snow and cold put an end to a relatively mild winter and resulted in schools, businesses and government buildings shutting down at the peak of it. Even the U.S. Postal Service, known for not letting “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” prevent them from delivering mail, took their carriers off their routes for two days. On Jan. 30 a new coldest high of -10 degrees and on Jan. 31, a new record low of -23 degrees was set. Even more troubling were wind chills that hit -47 degrees.

According to ready.gov, winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms and blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds. As a result, winter storms are referred to as deceptive killers.

So, what should you do the next time winter weather strikes? Here are a few tips:

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Prepare for power outages.
  • Use generators outside only and away from windows.
  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.
  • Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Check on neighbors.

Spring outlook

Hard to believe, but spring is right around the corner and you know the old adage, April showers, bring May flowers. Early in the spring, depending on melting snow and other factors, flooding from April showers do become a concern for us. Flooding is defined as a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods may result from rain, snow, and overflows of dams and other water systems. Flash flooding is usually caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time — generally less than six hours. This can impact you, even if you are not in a floodplain. If flash flooding is a risk in your location, then monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain.

  • Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
  • Gather supplies in case you must leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
  • Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you’ve built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
  • Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies.
  • Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery and if you have a sump pump, keep an extra motor on hand.

2018 top 10 weather events

Our friends at the National Weather Service, put together their annual Top 10 weather events. Half of the incidents involved major flooding, a hazard which is becoming more commonplace. Here are the Top 10 in chronological order:

1. Jan. 22-23 — Winter Storm

2. April 13-15 — Blizzard

3. June 14-17 — NW Wisconsin Flooding

4. Aug. 20-21 — Dane County Flooding

5. Aug. 26-27 — EC WisconsinI Flooding

6. Aug. 27-28 — SW Wisconsin Flooding

7. Aug. 28 — Severe Winds and Tornadoes

8. Sept. 3-5 — SW Wisconsin Flooding

9. Extreme Monthly Temperature Trends

10. Record Precipitation in 2018

Emergency planning

In 1984, a deadly release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India, and a near miss in Institute, W.V. in 1986, prompted Congress to pass the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA) of 1986. EPCRA was created to help communities plan for chemical emergencies.

Facilities in the private and the public sector which use, store or produce hazardous chemicals in certain quantities must make an annual report to the local fire department, the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the State Emergency Response Commission. Those reports are due each March 1 and in Racine County, there are 151 Reporting Facilities and 65 Planning Facilities. That information is then used to develop hazardous material response plans including off site facility plans for facilities that use, store or produce extremely hazardous substances like chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid and nitric acid to name just a few of the common chemicals found in Racine County.

Spotter seminar

Learn all you can about tornadoes and severe weather. Attend our annual Severe Weather Safety and Storm Spotting Seminar conducted by a meteorologist from the National Weather Service. The seminar will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the Great Lakes Room of the Racine Building at Gateway Technical College, 901 Pershing Drive. The training is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. To register, go to https://2019stormspotter.eventbrite.com.

Speakers bureau

Recently we spoke to the Racine Chapter of the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) and the Racine Area Home Schoolers. If your group needs a speaker for an upcoming event, please contact us. We can speak on a variety of topics from Emergency Management 101 to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. We’d enjoy meeting you and sharing about emergency preparedness. For more information, call 262-636-3515.

Facebook

If you have not done so, “like” us on Facebook. We regularly post useful information and tips, along with information about severe weather. You can find us at Facebook.com/ReadyRacineCo. In addition, check out our website at www.readyracineco.com.

Until next time, stay safe.

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