Photo by

Prior to a winter storm, people should make sure they insulate their pipes to keep them from freezing

Tips on preparing for winter storm approaching DMV area

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the National Capital Region, which includes Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Fort McNair. The storm is expected to bring heavy snow along with sleet and freezing rain.

The extreme cold and heavy snowfall that accompany winter storms can be debilitating and dangerous. Winter storms can affect everyone, even those who usually experience mild winters. Heavy snowfall can be blinding for drivers and dangerous for those it traps indoors. Winter storms may also include high winds, sleet, freezing rain, frozen roads, power outages and dangerously cold temperatures.

How to prepare for a winter storm

·       Be aware of the risk for severe winter weather in the area

·       People should make sure their home is properly insulated

·       Caulk and weather strip doors and windows to keep out cold air

·       Insulate pipes to prevent freezing

·       Consider what to use for emergency heat in case the electricity goes out

·       People need to understand the heating system in their home. Be aware that the most destructive home fires happen during winter weather due to improper use of heating devices.

·       To prevent water damage from burst pipes, keep the home’s temperature above freezing, even if the Family is away

·       Keep the car’s gas tank full to keep the fuel line from freezing and for emergency use

·       People should make sure that they have an adequate amount of winter clothing and blankets for their Family

·       Get an emergency supply kit that includes rock salt, sand, snow shovels and other snow-removal equipment, adequate winter clothing and batteries for radio and flashlights

·       To slow the accumulation of snow and ice on the driveway and out sidesteps, pretreat these surfaces by spreading a small amount of rock salt

If there is a winter storm, people should stay inside and monitor the radio or TV for more information or instruction, eat regularly, drink plenty of fluids, practice fire safety, check the batteries in the smoke alarms, make sure there is plenty of ventilation if the heat source that is being used could possibly produce hazardous smoke or fumes.

“I think it’s important to emphasize that planning for emergencies must start well ahead of the impeding storm,” explained Jim Dansereau, a JBM-HH fire inspector. “You should never use you stove for supplemental heat. Stoves were not designed or built to heat homes.”

Dansereau added that there is an increased chance of fire or burn injuries using a stove outside it’s intent for cooking. Any portable fuel fired heating equipment should not be used indoors. Portable fuel fired heating equipment produce carbon monoxide.

“Increased levels of carbon monoxide are unhealthy to breathe in,” he said. “A portable generator large enough to supply temporary electrical heating devices are one way to get heat. If your budget does not allow you to have safe alternative heating in event of power loss then make plans to go to a hotel, friends, family or temporary shelter.”

Troy Dennison, a JBM-HH operations specialist, said one of the biggest concerns if a person loses  power in his or her home is how to stay warm. 

“Knowing the proper means to heat your home could save your life,” said Dennison. “Carbon monoxide is a silent, odorless killer. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 500 lives and causes more than 15,000 visits to hospital emergency departments annually.

“Now is the time to check your carbon monoxide gas detector or install one. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, remember to only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, light-headedness, nausea, weakness, chest pain and confusion, and if you suspect it could be carbon monoxide poison, immediately seek medical attention.”

If a person has to go outside, he or she should not overexert if he or she has to shovel snow or any other physical activity. When shoveling, do not try to move large amounts of snow each time. The person should lift with his or her legs to help prevent serious back injury. It’s also vital to cover the mouth because this protects the lungs from extremely cold air.

What to do after a winter storm

·       Stay tuned to radio or TV for more information or instructions

·       Be aware of the possibility of flooding after a winter storm

·       Seek medical attention immediately if needed

·       Be very careful driving, as roads may still be wet or frozen

·       Once in a safe place, report to the command if military or government civilian personnel

For more information, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at; the American Red Cross at; or Ready Army at

People should have an emergency supply kit with enough supplies for at least three days, make an emergency plan with the Family and be informed about what might happen.

Information for this story was provided by the Fort Knox Installation Operation Center.






Compiled by Catrina Francis

Pentagram Editor