Prior to the initial days of the New Year, many of us had never heard of a polar vortex let alone experienced one. As we learned, the polar vortex is the prevailing wind pattern circling the Arctic that normally – normally being the operative word – keeps the extremely cold air bottled up around the North Pole; however, occasionally the vortex weakens and that arctic air comes pouring down into America.
And that’s exactly what happened, producing record cold temperatures across the country and barreling through many areas where residents aren’t used to sub-freezing temperatures.
A weather phenomenon like this illustrates the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and taking a ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ approach. When heat, power and communications can be knocked out for days at a time, having a plan in place before a severe weather event strikes can help you more safely weather the storm.
Ensure you have an emergency supply kit assembled containing enough food, water and other supplies to last at least 72 hours. Your kit should also include items to help you manage during outages (e.g. electric, gas, telephone, etc.)
Since regular fuel sources may be cut off, if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove make sure you have a good supply of dry, seasoned wood and that your chimney is clean/has been cleared out. Safety Tip: Never use a generator, grill, camping stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Ensure units are located away from any doors, windows and vents that could let carbon monoxide come inside.
Have an adequate supply of warm clothing and blankets. For those living in areas that normally don’t receive extreme cold weather and consequently might not have access locally to warmer winter clothing, consider having friends or family members who do live in colder climates send you the essentials, or purchase the items online.
Businesses, organizations and individual families should have a communications plan in place for staying in touch during a severe weather event.
Be alert to changing weather conditions and follow updated information from the National Weather Service and/or other local news channels. Organizations utilizing an Emergency Notification System can easily receive and forward this life-saving information to members of their networks – who in turn can forward the information to friends and family.
Stay indoors and off the roads. If you must travel, make sure your emergency supply kit is in your vehicle.
Ready.gov provides many resources and tips to help businesses, schools and communities prepare for all phases of a severe winter event. With forecasters calling for another round of frigid arctic air to hit many parts of the country, it would be prudent to review their site and make sure your winter preparedness plan has you covered.
To learn how Regroup helped other organizations communicate during the recent polar vortex and to receive a free customized demonstration showing how we could help your organization communicate more effectively during severe weather events, please call us at (917) 464-6776 or REGISTER HERE