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Blizzard 2013: Preparation & Getting Through It

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WebMD Health News

Feb. 7, 2013 --The major blizzard predicted to hit the Northeast and New England on Friday may dump as much as 2 feet of snow from New York City to Maine, the National Weather Service predicts. Winds may gust to 75 miles per hour.

If history repeats, major power outages, treacherous roads, and downed power lines are expected.

WebMD reached out to emergency experts and public health officials for information on blizzard preparation and getting through the blizzard safely.

Q: What should I do now to prepare?

Food and Water: Gather extra food and water. Get high-energy foods such as dried fruits, granola bars, and nuts, as well as food products that do not need to be cooked or refrigerated.

Get bottled water. Store it in a place you can get to easily.

Medications: Assemble medications you need on a daily basis. Put them in a backpack or easy-to-carry kit in case you need to evacuate.

Power: Have flashlights and fresh batteries available and other battery-powered items, such as radios, ready to use if the power fails.

Other: Update your list of emergency contacts.

If weather permits, go to the hardware or home improvement store for supplies, such as fresh batteries or a roof rake if you do not have one. A roof rake is designed to remove heavy snowfall from roofs and comes with a long extension. It could possibly keep you from climbing onto the roof.

Get an ice melting product to apply to slippery sidewalks.

Q: Do I need to take any precautions before shoveling snow?

Consider your heart health before deciding. The risk of a heart attack while snow shoveling may rise for some, especially those with existing heart disease, a history of stroke, or those in poor physical condition.

If you are at risk, let someone else do it.

If you can't find anyone, take precautions. Take frequent breaks. Don't eat a heavy meal right before or right after shoveling. Don't drink alcohol right before or right after shoveling. Use a small shovel.

Q: How do I prevent hypothermia/frostbite? What are the signs of frostbite?

Dress as warmly as possible. Know that it can come on quickly.  Recognize the first symptoms, such as a white or pale appearance in the toes, fingers, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose.

If you suspect frostbite, get medical help right away. Get to a warm area right away and remove any wet clothing. If that is not possible right away, warm the affected areas using body heat, such as by placing frostbitten fingers in your underarm.

If you are showing signs of a dangerously low body temperature, known as hypothermia -- shivering uncontrollably, slurring speech, having memory loss -- your body core (not arms and legs) should be warmed first. Get medical help ASAP.

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