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Winter Weather Preparedness

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November 5, 2019

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit, Extension faculty instructor in the Center for Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University Extension, speaks about winter weather preparedness.


Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about winter weather preparedness. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit, Extension Faculty Instructor in the Center for Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University Extension.

Anne, how do we prepare for winter weather in Mississippi?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: It is interesting that you ask because in Mississippi, every mode of weather preparedness is needed during the winter months. It is not uncommon to have tornadoes or flooding at any point during the year, including the winter months. Regarding snow, ice, sleet or cold, there are a number of things that can be done to prepare, and I don't mean picking up your milk and bread the day before it arrives.

Amy Myers: Yeah. What types of things can we do to prepare our homes?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: Having an alternative source of heat, as well as a stockpile of food and water. This may include a generator, wood burning stove, fireplace or gas logs. If you have these, it is important to prepare well ahead of time, whether that be by scheduling propane refills before winter starts. The summer months are typically less expensive to refill. Harvesting and storing firewood, and remember when storing firewood at least five feet away from the foundation of your home.

Amy Myers: Aren't firewood and propane combustible?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: Certainly could be. That is why it should be kept far away from the house or garage, but off the ground and covered so that it stays dry. You want to keep your propane tank away from sources of combustion as well.

Amy Myers: When traveling in these conditions, what should people keep in their vehicles?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: Of course, the usual items, like your jumble cables, first aid kit, portable air compressor, high visibility vest, flashlights with batteries, a battery bank for your phone, an AM/FM radio, water and snacks. Extra clothing, jackets, blankets, and even some kitty litter. Kitty litter can make moving outside the vehicle easier if you're stuck on ice and even can help give the vehicle some traction on top of the ice sheet along the road.

Traveling during the winter months can be more hazardous in the South because we do not have as many resources for our roads during winter months because it happens so rarely that we need them. We have a different set of circumstances than our northern states.

Amy Myers: What else can you advise for preparing the home in a winter storm or ice storm?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: It is important to follow the advice of emergency officials. It may not seem bad at first, but my, oh my, can things change quickly. Depending on the impact of the storms, it may be important to have enough nonperishable food and water on hand for the whole family for at least days.

Follow the direction of local weather personnel with timing and preparation guidelines. Make sure there is plenty of entertainment for the kids because with the possibility of losing power, it will be important to have card games, coloring books, reading books, and other sources of entertainment for them. Having lanterns powered by batteries is always the best choice.

Candles for some lighting is what my parents used when I was growing up, but that is not the best advice these days. However, I realize this may be the only option. Exercise, extreme caution if you must use candles and never leave them unattended. This is an easy way to start a fire in the home and that should be avoided at all costs because the fire truck may be delayed due to hazardous road conditions.

Amy Myers: You mentioned wood burning stoves and fireplaces. How can we be more prepared in the home with that?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: Get a fire detector and carbon monoxide detectors that are battery powered. Always checked the batteries and change them. A good rule of thumb is to change them when daylight savings time changes. Never use electrical and gas stove tops or ovens as a home heating source. It's not safe.

Amy Myers: What do we do if we have damage to our homes and structures, or if trees are down on the roads?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: You always want to report this information to your local county emergency management agency, or by dialing 911 if it is an actual emergency.

Amy Myers: Do you have any last tips?

Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit: Always pay attention to local officials and their advice, and emergency official's orders or curfews. Always check local radio stations if local TV stations are unavailable. Or website, social media outlets for more information.

Amy Myers: Today, we've been speaking with Anne Howard Hilbun-Benoit, Extension Instructor. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family, have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


Department: Ext Ctr for Government & Comm Devel

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