Winter more than a time to prepare for the holidays

SUSSEX COUNTY — Millions of Americans are in a holiday frame of mind this time of year.

But while feasts, family and festivities may be the focus as the days grow shorter, there is something else that should be tops on everyone’s ‘to do’ list: preparedness.

The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center reminds the public that hazard preparation is a must before any season, whether it’s ahead of hurricane season that ended in late November or the nor’easter season that runs from now until to March.

Residents and property owners are encouraged to check supplies, monitor weather conditions, and take appropriate action if directed this winter season.

“The types of hazards may change with the calendar, but the need to remain vigilant and always prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store is a constant from one season to the next,” said Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas. “The summer and fall months get a lot of attention because of hurricane season, and with good reason. But the winter season can present its own set of dangers, with snow, ice, and coastal flooding, among others. The public should take this time to check their preparedness kits and make sure their homes or businesses are ready for the season.”

Over the years, Sussex County has experienced its fair share of harsh winter seasons, including the “polar vortex” that brought extreme cold to the region in early 2014, as well as back-to-back blizzards in 2009 and 2010 that closed schools, stranded motorists, scoured beaches and knocked out power across the county.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal outlook for this winter (December through February) predicts equal chances for temperature, with above average chances for wetter conditions in Sussex County.

Forecasters in mid- October, when the outlook was released, expected the development this season of an El Niño pattern, the phenomenon of warming waters in the east-central Pacific Ocean that can have global effects. That often leads to wetter and warmer conditions, particularly in the southeastern United States, the breeding ground for the coastal storms, with their heavy rains, wind and flooding, some of which have already spun up the East Coast this fall season.

To ensure you are prepared for winter weather, whatever its form, the Sussex County EOC suggests the following preventive actions:

Before the storm

•Spread an ice melting agent on walkways and driveways to keep surfaces free of ice; use sand to improve traction;

•Have snow shovels and other equipment handy;

•Winterize your vehicle:

•Ensure antifreeze levels are enough to avoid freezing;

•Ensure the heater and defroster work properly;

•Check lights and flashing hazard lights for serviceability;

•Pack a winterization kit that includes an ice scraper, de-icer for door locks, blankets and sand or kitty litter to provide traction if your vehicle becomes stranded;

•Create a Safety Profile for your household with the County’s free Smart911.com service to provide potentially life-saving information in advance.

During the storm

•Listen to television, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information. Also, visit the Sussex County EOC website and its social media channels, including Facebook at www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC and Twitter at www.twitter.com/SussexCtyDE_EOC, for up-to-date information;

•Eat regularly and drink ample fluids; avoid caffeine and alcohol;

•Conserve fuel and power, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms;

•Limit unnecessary travel and heed all advisories and warnings.

Dress for the weather

•Wear layers of loose-fitting, thin, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant;

•Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves, as well as a hat;

•Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.

For more winter weather information and helpful tips, please visit the Sussex County website at www.sussexcountyde.gov/emergency-preparedness and click on the ‘Other Hazards’ link on the left to download a useful guide about preparing for winter storms and other types of hazardous events.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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