In addition to cold temperatures and snow and ice, winter brings dangerous driving conditions and the potential for damaging and deadly storms.

Severe winter storms can be extremely dangerous. Transportation can come to a standstill and electricity can be out for days, often with very cold temperatures. Making preparations in advance of a storm can make getting through it easier.

According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 15 cold weather-related deaths in Missouri during the winter of 2009-10.

Preparedness tips before a Severe Winter Storm

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:

• Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area within 12-48 hours.

• Winter Storm Warning indicates severe winter weather is in the area or expected immediately and can be life threatening.

• Ice Storm Warning is issued for ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more.

• Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

• Frost/Freeze Warning is issued when below freezing temperatures are expected.

• Freezing Rain is rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees, and power lines.

• Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground.

Missourians can prepare for winter by:

• Creating a family emergency plan and creating an emergency kit with bottled water and canned and dried food that can be prepared without cooking in case of a power outage.

• Adding the following supplies to your disaster supply kit: rock salt to melt ice on walkways; sand to improve traction; snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.

• Securing an alternate fuel source such as firewood or a generator. Make sure your fireplace functions properly. If you have a generator, make sure you have fuel and that it functions properly. Only operate the generator outdoors. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

• Creating a winter car kit in the trunk of the car. This includes: windshield scraper and small broom, flashlight, blanket, spare radio with batteries, snacks or energy-type food, water, jumper cables, flares and matches, shovel, sand or shingles to give tires traction, extra hats, socks and mittens, first aid kit, fluorescent distress flag.

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