Some ways to be prepared with winter weather coming

Published 12:30 pm Monday, November 27, 2023

With holiday travel and winter weather approaching, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched their Winter Ready campaign, encouraging people to identify and reduce the risks they face during cold weather.

“Harsh winters are not only a concern for northern states, as blizzards, extreme cold and the damage to our critical infrastructure that these conditions can cause threaten every community, everywhere across our nation,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “An ounce of prevention today is worth a pound of cure tomorrow.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more temperature-related deaths are attributable to cold exposure than heat, and Americans in rural communities are most likely to be impacted.  An important risk to mitigate is fires caused by home portable heaters, which remain the second leading cause of home fires in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Kentucky has experienced ice storms and tornado outbreaks in recent years during cold weather months, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell says, “No matter where you are in the nation, it is important to know how to handle cold temperatures, power outages, and home heating technology in ways that keep you and your family safe.  I want everyone to be Winter Ready and then encourage your friends, family and neighbors to make a plan, too.  The steps we take now to prepare and educate people ahead of the winter season can end up saving lives.”

USFA Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Morrell points out, “Fires and fire-related injuries increase during the winter season.  These increases are largely due to heating insecurity, inattentive cooking and holiday decoration fires.  Cold temperatures lead to the use of fireplaces or space heaters.  These heat sources can keep us warm and can also be dangerous if not used safely.  Please keep blankets and anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heat sources.”

She adds, “Holidays bring celebrating and cooking for family and friends, which can distract you from food on the stove.  Decorations are beautiful, but please check the cords of your holiday lights for cracks or frays and never leave a burning candle unattended. If using a live tree, keep it watered. A dry tree burns faster in event of fire.”

At ready.gov/winter-ready, you can find other tips to keep you safe, and reduce the risks of home fires.