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Red Cross Offers 15 Ways to Stay Safe During Winter Storms

ALBANY, NY (January 17, 2019) – With a winter storm watch posted for all of Eastern New York this weekend, the American Red Cross has steps that everyone can take to stay safe in the face of potentially heavy snowfall and bitter cold.

“A winter storm is headed our way, and our first priority is making sure that residents across our region stay safe,” said Kimmy Venter, spokesperson for the American Red Cross Eastern New York Region. “Whether you’re trying to keep your home warm or dealing with the elements outside, put safety first and follow these tips at all times.”


During this time of year, many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps:

  1. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  2. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets, or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  3. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  4. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

Find more home fire safety information here.


If you are outside as the temperature drops, keep these safety tips in mind:

  1. Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  2. Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  3. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  4. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have access to unfrozen water and enough shelter to keep them warm.
  5. Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.


Stay off the road if possible during a severe storm. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  1. Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  2. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  3. Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  4. Don’t pass snow plows.
  5. Remember that ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways and take extra caution.

People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

NOTE: To link to this information online, please visit our website.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/eny and follow @RedCrossENY on Twitter.


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