10 tips for surviving a winter storm

Food delivery drivers and snow plows travel along Prosperity Church Road in Charlotte during a 2014 winter storm.
Food delivery drivers and snow plows travel along Prosperity Church Road in Charlotte during a 2014 winter storm. 2014 CHARLOTTE OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

So now that you’ve stocked up on your bread and milk, you need to know what to do should Wednesday’s snowfall in the Charlotte area get a little out of hand.

Here are 10 quick tips from the National Weather Service on how to survive a heavy snowstorm:

Travel cautiously: Meteorologists are expecting a blitz of snowfall Wednesday evening, which will quickly cover roads and make travel hazardous. It’s best, they say, to stay home or indoors in a warm location.

Stock your pantries: Make sure you have an adequate supply of food, prescriptions and any other household necessities before the storm strikes. Be sure to have rock salt or sand handy to spread on walkways or steps.

Equip yourself, but don’t overdo it: It’s not a bad idea to have a shovel or some other snow-removal equipment. The NWS cautions that shoveling is “extremely hard work.” Do not shovel snow unless you’re in good physical condition. If you have to shovel, rest frequently and pace yourself.

Dress like an Eskimo: If you have to go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Outer garments should be “tightly woven” and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots.

Winterize your auto: Keep gas in your tank, check your windshield wipers and keep your washer fluid full. Carry extra weight, such as sand bags, in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck, especially if you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

Prepare an emergency kit: According to NWS, it should include: a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, batteries, powered radio with a band for NOAA weather reception, more batteries, bottled water, snacks, hat, gloves, blanket, tow chain or rope, road slat or sand, booster cables, fully charged cellphone and emergency flares should you have a roadside emergency.

Drive sensibly: Stay on main roads. Steep or hilly sections of the roadway could become slippery and treacherous. Slow down. Turn. Brake. And accelerate gradually. Leave plenty of room between you and the other vehicles. Be careful on bridges, ramps and overpasses. Allow for extra time to reach your destination.

If trapped in your car: Pull off the road, put on your hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the window. Call for help and stay inside the car. Try to conserve fuel as much as possible, but run your engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open windows slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure your exhaust pipe is snow-free.

Prepare your body: Exercise to maintain body heat, but do not overexert yourself. If you are in a car, huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket.

Remember your pets: Be aware that your outdoor pets and livestock are exposed to freezing temperatures. Make sure they have a source of water that will not freeze and a warm place to take shelter from the wind and cold.