Based on our location, it is rare for central Louisiana to experience severe winter weather, such as snow or ice storms. But it can happen, and when it does local residents are often less-prepared than those in areas where severe winter storms are more frequent. For example, local communities don’t have snow plows or large quantities of salt for roads and bridges.
As a result, winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms, such as the back-to-back storms in February of 2021, can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.
A winter storm can:
How to Protect Yourself from Winter Weather
IF YOU ARE UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING, FIND SHELTER RIGHT AWAY
Know your winter weather terms:
Winter Storm Warning
Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.
Winter Storm Watch
Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.
Winter Weather Advisory
Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.
Know Your Risk Winter Storms
Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
Preparing for Winter Weather
Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
In Case of Emergency
Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car. Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.
Stay Safe During Winter Weather
Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
Reduce the risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion when shoveling snow and walking in the snow.
Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.
Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes.
- Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin.
- Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
- Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness.
- Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.