The blizzard that hit the East Coast today left many Chicagoans stranded in different cities. Lauren Tate Snyder, a Red Cross intern, is among the hundreds that can’t make their way back home from holiday trips to the Northeast. Flight cancellations, road blocks and commuter train delays can be frustrating and dangerous for the holiday visitor. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago offers a few useful tips for you to pass along to your loved ones who may be snowed in on the East Coast.
First and foremost, it’s important to monitor the weather reports and follow the instructions of local authorities. If it is absolutely necessary that you drive during bad weather, inform someone of your travel route, destination and expected arrival time. Store a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle and remember to keep the gas tank near full to avoid ice building up in the gas tank and fuel lines.
In case you get stranded on the road, here are a few things to keep in mind.
• Stranded drivers should stay with the vehicle and not try to walk to safety. You can quickly become disoriented in wind-driven snow and run the risk of developing hypothermia and frostbite.
• Exercise your arms and legs to maintain body heat.
• Change out of wet clothing, using dry replacements from your supplies kit to prevent hypothermia.
• Use the heater for 10 minutes every hour and leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen.
• Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle
• Make it easier for rescuers to find you by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antenna
• After the snow has subsided, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
• Stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk to safety as you risk developing hypothermia and/or frostbite.
• Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
• Start the vehicle and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
• As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to help you stay warm.
• Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
• Leave the overhead light on inside the vehicle when the engine is running so you can be seen.
• After the snow has stopped falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.
For information on winter storm safety and preparation, please visit chicagoredcross.org.