PEARL – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is asking residents to prepare themselves and their homes for a dangerous winter weather system that is expected to move into the state beginning Sunday night.
“Ice, snow and frigid temperatures can be killers,” said MEMA Executive Director Robert Latham. “Ensure that your preparedness plan is in place now before the weather begins to deteriorate. Once the freezing rain and snow begins you should travel only in an emergency. It was 21 years ago this month that the northern third of our state experienced a major ice storm that resulted in disruption of power for days to thousands of Mississippians. While we do not expect this storm to be anything like the Ice Storm of 1994, our citizens have to be prepared.”
Ice accumulations could cause power outages and very dangerous driving conditions. Last February during icy weather the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and other emergency service officials reported more than 700 vehicle accidents. Many motorists became stranded on interstates and highways that became impassable.
Take time to go over these tips to keep your home, community, vehicles and pets safe:
All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure your family and neighbors know the risks, and find ways to communicate with them during the cold temperatures.
Keep contact with elderly and at-risk neighbors and relatives. Make sure they have a safe, warm place to stay while the conditions remain cold and hazardous.
Ensure community members have a fully-stocked emergency supply kit with items like food, water, medications, flashlights and extra batteries.
Identify residents who are: shut-ins, elderly, families with small children, medical-care dependent, non-English speaking, low-income and have no transportation.
Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. Driving conditions will be hazardous.
If traveling, let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
Battery and ignition system: should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
Brakes: check for wear and fluid levels.
Heater and defroster: ensure they are working properly.
Lights and flashing hazard lights: ensure they are working properly.
Gas tank: Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
Bring pets/companion animals inside during freezing weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Warm vehicle engines attract outdoor animals and pets. To avoid injury to hidden animals, hit on your vehicle’s hood before starting your engine.
For detailed preparedness information, contact your county emergency management agency, or go to MEMA’s website at www.msema.org. The best way to get up-to-date information is to “Like” MEMA on Facebook, or “Follow” us on twitter.