Are you ready for a winter storm?

Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross
Credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

The first big winter storm, when inches and inches of snow falls, often catches you by surprise. Your commute to work takes twice as long; your pantry lacks basic supplies; and your mind, well, where did its patience go?  We urge you, and we urge you to urge others, to slow down in every way and take a few critical steps towards preparing for the season. Below are several resources that will help you. Take and adapt them for you and your family. What special needs should be tended to before a snow emergency arrives? This tip sheet will help you prepare for and respond during winter weather. This check list covers both winter storms and severe cold preparedness. And this web page addresses pet safety during snowstorms and has an additional link to getting your pets ready for different disasters. Your emotional response to severe weather and other disasters, and the stress they invite, is worth understanding too. For more resources visit

In my what kit?

Yeah, it’s a winter Monday morning. (Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross)

A typical winter morning conversation at the Northern Minnesota Red Cross region HQ after a day-long snow fall and more winter weather expected:

Hey, what’s in your winter car preparedness kit? In my “what” kit? Your car emergency kit, you know, the kit with extra stuff you keep in your car during winter for emergencies? Oh, right, yeah. Boots, gloves, blanket, jumper cables. I mostly think about it in terms of keeping warm. Yeah, me too, but I think my kit needs work.

Does anyone want to brush off the snow? (Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross)

Sure, you can call us geeks (we don’t mind), but we’d rather be prepared, especially on a day like today and the days to follow, than frozen and worried. So, if you’re planning to be out and about via automobile, in addition to having supplies (e.g., scarves, gloves, & blankets) to keep warm, check your car:

  • gas tank: full (half = empty)
  • tires: inflated
  • windshield washer reservoir: full
  • driving: go slow
  • poor visibility: stay home

Of course, we offer the suggestions above knowing that you’ll keep in mind your location–the Twin Cities Banana Belt (term provided courtesy of Thief River Falls native) versus the Minnesota Frozen Tundra (term provided courtesy of Southern California native). Plus, our Red Cross water cooler conversationalists agree that urban versus rural travel shapes your kit.

For more ideas click here,

XO from the Red Cross Water Cooler!

Ready For The Deep Freeze?

THE COLD IS COMING! THE COLD IS COMING! THE COLD IS COMING! By now perhaps you’ve heard: we’re soon to have the coldest weather that we’ve had in Minnesota during the past FOUR years. Rather than FREAKING OUT (as some of us are doing), we asked Minnesota winter adventurer Linda Newman to provide us with tips for staying warm outside when it’s -512 degrees. (Okay, FREAK OUT person is exaggerating. How about BELOW ZERO? It probably feels the same.)

Linda Newman and Arrow, one of her sled dogs. Photo courtesy of Linda (and Arrow).
Linda Newman and Arrow, one of her sled dogs. Photo courtesy of Linda (and Arrow).

Cold weather tips from someone who knows (and is smart because she has fluffy warm dogs, too):

  1. Dress in warm layers. Be prepared. You can’t put on what you don’t have but you can take off a layer. Put a water and windproof outer layer over all under layers that is breathable.
  2. NO cotton. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds it close to your skin, keeping you damp and cold.
  3. Keep moving. Even boots rated for 100 below temperatures won’t keep your feet warm if you’re standing still for too long.
  4. No alcohol. Alcohol actually dehydrates you, making you cold.
  5. Stay hydrated. Keep a thermos handy filled with your favorite warm, non alcoholic beverage.
  6. Chemical foot warmers and hand warmers are your friends!
  7. Cold feet and hands. If you want to get warmth to your extremities, you must get the blood flowing to them. Clap your hands together. Make the motion of throwing a ball, rotating your arm from your shoulder, getting the blood directly to your hands. Stomp your feet.
  8. Having a hood with a ruff of some type does help keep your face warmer from wind.
  9. Windproof is the word. Fleece gloves without this feature are cold, cold, cold! A windproof neck gaiter is also so nice!
  10. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re cold, go get warm. Frostbite is no fun.

Thank  you, Linda (and Arrow), for sharing your winter weather wisdom with us. We hope that you’re toasty warm during the coming days. Meanwhile, everyone can download the American Red Cross free mobile First Aid app and learn what to do in case of frostbite, hypothermia and other emergencies. (Now, back now to FREAKING OUT!)

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