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OSU-OKC safety officials offer winter-weather advice

With an impending storm bringing plunging temperatures and a chance of rain, snow or ice this weekend, safety officials at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City are reminding residents to plan ahead in order to be ready for poor or unsafe conditions.

RuthAnn Baugh, director for the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) Center for Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said preparation is key when it comes to navigating winter-weather conditions.

“Residents should pay attention to local weather forecasts and anticipate possible impacts,” Baugh said. “On the road, that means slowing down and bringing certain supplies in the car. At home, it means being prepared for power outages.”

Officials with the Center for Safety and Emergency Preparedness (CSEP) offer the following tips:

Have a plan

  • Discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued
  • Ensure your family knows meeting places and phone numbers of other family members in case they are separated when a storm hits
  • Know what to do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones are cut off for an extended period of time
  • Understand the hazards of wind chill. Cold temperatures are even more dangerous, and potentially deadly, when combined with strong winds. The lower the temperature and stronger the wind, the more at risk you are
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly. Make sure they are prepared

On the road

  • If you must drive, plan to leave early so you can travel slowly to your destination
  • Try to leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front of and behind you
  • If you feel your vehicle skidding, steer with the skid until you regain control; do not overcorrect the steering wheel, as this could exacerbate the skid​
  • Have your vehicle winterized before winter storm season. Keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing
  • Keep a windshield scraper, de-icer, snow shovel and small broom for ice and snow removal inside the car
  • Store several blankets or sleeping bags, mittens, dry clothes and rain gear in the vehicle
  • Keep some bottled water and non-perishable snacks, like dried fruit and nuts, in the vehicle
  • Have sand or cat litter available for generating traction
  • Keep handy jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, a cell-phone charger and a first-aid kit

At home

  • Keep cell phones charged and consider purchasing rechargeable cell phone chargers
  • Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. They produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly
  • Never heat a home with an oven if the electricity goes out
  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented
  • Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater
  • Keep a multipurpose fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector
  • Plan to bring pets inside during winter weather. Move livestock to sheltered areas with non-­frozen drinking water
  • Let faucets drip to avoid freezing and know how to shut off water valves if necessary

For more information about CSEP, call (405) 945-3208 or go to www.osuokc.edu/csep.