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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 11

Message From The Chief

Most of the state has experienced warm temperatures so far this fall. The cold fronts that have made it across the state have brought welcome short bouts of cooler temperatures and a break from the stifling summer heat and humidity.

Texas Winter Outlook

There has been a lot of talk about the potential return of La Niña and what that means for Texas. That is why the National Weather Service Austin/San Antonio provided an update in this month's online newsletter. Be sure to read Meteorologist Aaron Treadway's article for the long version and detailed description. The short version is that the return of La Niña typically indicates warmer and drier weather conditions for the Lone Star State.

I'm sure many of you reading this know the same thing I know – it doesn't take much for winter weather to create treacherous conditions.

Whether or not La Niña develops, we still need to prepare for winter weather. While many find it inconvenient, not preparing can be dangerous. It won't take long to peek inside your home emergency kit and make sure you have winter supplies stocked. Many of the supplies are needed in any emergency, but there are a few additional items to add such as:

  • Sand to keep sidewalks and steps clear of ice and improve traction while driving
  • Windshield scraper for your vehicle
  • Warm clothes and extra blankets

As long as we're talking about emergency supplies, make sure the basic supplies are stocked too. These include:

  • One-week supply of non-perishable food, one gallon of bottled water per person per day, coolers for food and ice storage
  • Credit cards and cash (banks and ATMs may not have power)
  • Battery-operated radio, NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries or hand crank radio, cell phones and chargers
  • First-aid kit, seven-day supply of prescription medications, copies of prescriptions, special medical items, hearing aids and batteries, extra prescription or spare prescription eyeglasses
  • Manual can opener, knife, tools, booster cables, fire extinguisher, duct tape, tarp, rope, flashlight with extra batteries
  • Supplies for babies, the elderly, family members with special health care needs, and food and supplies for pets

If severe winter weather does threaten this winter you can monitor broadcast media outlets and NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will provide up-to-date road conditions at Drive Texas or you can call 1-800-452-9292. Keep in mind that over half of fatalities related to winter weather occur in vehicles, so if you need to get out on the roads when there is ice or snow, take extra precautions and slow down.

It's also a good idea to become familiar with winter weather terminology. Visit NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation to learn the difference between what winter weather watches and warnings mean.

There is one last thing I want to touch on, and unfortunately, we see this every year – fires caused by space heaters. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) from 2009-2013, "Space heaters, whether portable or stationary accounted for two of every five (40%) of home heating fires and four out of five (84%) of home heating deaths. For safety tips on how to properly use space heaters, visit the NFPA website. Remember, fire isn't the only cause of preventable deaths from alternate heat sources. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, "Every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning." For tips on how to prevent CO poisoning, visit the CDC website.

Friendly Reminder…
It's still not too late to get your flu shot! This was the message last month! Don't forget that with few exceptions, the CDC recommends a flu shot for everyone over six months of age. Let's all do our part to help keep Texas healthy!

Links:
Winter Weather Awareness
Build an Emergency Kit


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