Staying safe from winter weather in Raleigh, NC

Photo via @flyrdu

Most Raleighites are familiar with this photo turned meme of Glenwood Ave. during the snowstorm of 2014. The photo, which shows a car on fire as vehicles struggle nearby to get up a snow-slicked hill, is completely unphotoshopped. Yep. The struggle is real, y’all.

And the risk is very real too. As the temperature drops, the risk of car accidents increases — as well as hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, we felt it was important to help our readers understand the effects of extreme cold and share some tips on how to be proactive this season. This winter we could possibly see blizzards, extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice + high winds. (Hey, you never know.)

So what winter weather conditions should you look out for (and what do they mean)?

  • A Winter Storm Watch is issued when at least three inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of a one-quarter inch or more within a 12 to 24 hour period are likely within the next 24 to 48 hours.
  • A Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least three inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of a one-quarter inch or more are likely within the next 24 hours.
  • A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when one to three inches of snow or ice accumulations of less than one-quarter inch are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties.

How can you best prepare for whatever winter weather throws your way? (Tips from the CDC)

❄️ Always keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food in your home.
❄️ Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
❄️ Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
❄️ Properly vent kerosene heaters + ensure any electric generators are operated outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
❄️ Never burn charcoal indoors.
❄️ If you’ll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. (Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.)
❄️ Store an emergency kit in your vehicle — including a scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first-aid kit and road map.
❄️ Keep your car in good working order. Be sure to check the following: heater, defroster, brakes, brake fluid, ignition, emergency flashers, exhaust, oil, and battery.

Signs of hypothermia:

  • Body temperature below 95°F (35°C)
  • Confusion, slurred speech, or slow or uncoordinated body movements
  • Numb, tingly, or blue skin or shivering
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or fainting spells

Call 911 or get medical care right away if any of the above occurs during or after exposure to cold.