The Buffalo area found itself buried under as much as 5½ feet of snow Wednesday, with another lake-effect storm expected to bring 2 to 3 more feet by late today. That could be almost 9 feet of snow!
“This is an historic event. When all is said and done, this snowstorm will break all sorts of records, and that’s saying something in Buffalo,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a visit to the city.
So as these cold days breeze through how can you and your loved ones stay safe and warm, especially if you are trapped outside? Check out these tips below:
- When the snow starts piling up and it becomes clear that you're stuck on the road or your campsite, your best bet is to stay there. Venturing out in the snow increases the mortality rate in this type of situation, since visibility is usually close to zero and the temperature and wind are unpredictable its not worth the risk. Hunker down and plan to wait out the storm.
- If you're with other people, do not send a person out for help. This is extremely risky and is not likely to end well. It's important to stay together until the storm has passed or you're rescued.
- If you're stuck outside without a car or tent, it's imperative that you find some sort of shelter. Seek out a cave or an overhang, or look for a tarp or other materials you can use to fashion a shelter. If all else fails, build a snow cave to serve as insulation.
Keep warm and dry. Keep the windows rolled up in your car or windows covered in home. Wrap your coat, blanket, tarp, or any other type of material you have with you around your body to stay warm and to prevent frostbite outside. If you're with another person, use each other's body heat, too.
- If you're out in the wilderness, build a fire close by to keep warm and serve as a signal to attract attention.
- If you're in the car, let the engine run with the heat on to stay warm. However, it's very important that you don't keep the engine running if the exhaust pipe clogs with snow; this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which is deadly.
Stay hydrated. This is a very important way to keep your body healthy while you're trapped. If you don't have a water supply, stay hydrated by melting snow and drinking it. Put some in a container and melt it using the fire you built or your car's heater.
- Do not eat snow. This is harmful to the body. Melt the snow and drink it instead.
- If you have food, ration it to make it last over several days. Do not eat full meals.
Determine what to do when the blizzard is over. When the snow stops falling and the sun comes back out, your physical state will help you determine what comes next. You may be able to dig your way out of your car or tent or walk away. If that seems impossible, wait for help to arrive.
Shovel safely. Many heart attacks and back injuries occur when people used to a sedentary lifestyle attempt to shovel snow. It's extremely heavy work. If you don't work out regularly, see if a neighbor has a snow blower or is willing to help shovel. Take your time shoveling, take frequent rest breaks, and drink plenty of water.
Get medical treatment if necessary. If you’re outside and you or someone in your group gets hypothermia, remove cold, wet clothes immediately and use hot water bottles and warm fluids to warm up.
Clear the roof of your home. After a very heavy snowfall, you may need to clear your roof, ideally with a roof rake. Otherwise the weight of the snow may damage your house, especially flat or low-angle roofs. Be sure your air intake for the house is clear, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. During a power outage you may not have a functioning alarm.