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Paramedic’s Corner: Winter awareness
Paramedic’s Corner: Winter awareness

Ambulance Director Gary Carmack
The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) established Nov. 18 as Winter Awareness Day because Missouri’s recent winter storms have been quite costly. The state has experienced three severe winter storms since January 2008 that have knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses and caused millions of dollars in damage to private property. At the height of the power outages following this year’s ice storm from Jan. 26 to 28, 135,000 people were without electricity. Eight people died as a result of the storm that left a layer of ice more than two inches thick in some parts of southern Missouri.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 26 cold-weather related deaths during the winter of 2008-09 and 23 deaths during the winter of 2007-08.

“The winter awareness campaign is to encourage Missourians to prepare for and protect themselves during a snow or ice storm. Cold weather puts a strain on your heart. In the event of snowfall, citizens are urged to be careful when shoveling snow, pushing a vehicle out of a snow bank and to just generally avoid overexertion in the winter,” said SEMA Director Paul Parmentor.

Important terms the National Weather Service uses when forecasting severe winter weather are as follows:

Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.
Winter Storm Warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately and can be life threatening.
Ice Storm Warning is issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.

Missourians can prepare for winter by the following:

• Creating a family emergency plan and creating an emergency kit with additional water and food that can be prepared without cooking in case of a power outage.
• Securing an alternate fuel source such as firewood or a generator. Make sure your fireplace functions properly. Only operate the generator outdoors.
• Creating a winter car kit in the trunk of the car. This includes a blanket, spare radio with batteries, snacks or energy-type food, jumper cables, flares, shovel, sand or shingles to give tires traction.

More information can be found at the following websites:

SEMA: http://sema.dps.mo.gov/semapage.htm
(Click on the Winter Awareness link.)

Missouri’s Ready in 3 program:

FEMA’s Winter Weather Awareness Campaign:

National Weather Service’s Winter Deceptive Killer Brochure:

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