ST. PAUL — The National Weather Service is forecasting a storm this week that is expected to bring heavy rain, wind and even snow to parts of Minnesota. It’s a reminder that winter is on the way.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (DPS-HSEM) is working with the National Weather Service and state agency partners to share preparedness messaging throughout Winter Hazard Awareness Week, November 9 – 13.
“Minnesota winters are traditionally unpredictable. Even if it turns out to be warmer than normal, there will still be cold and snowy days. Take the time to gather supplies for your vehicle and home before the first winter weather event,” says DPS-HSEM Director Joe Kelly.
The HSEM website at hsem.dps.mn.gov contains information for each day of Winter Hazard Awareness Week. Many of the links take you to pages from our state agency partners.
- Thursday, November 12 Indoor Winter Safety
- Radon levels can soar during the colder months. Learn how to protect your home and family.
- Every Minnesota home is required to have a CO detector on every level including the basement (true?)
- If pipes in your home freeze, never try to thaw them with an open flame or torch.
- Friday, November 13 Winter Driving
- Take your time when driving in poor winter conditions. The Minnesota Department of Transportation provides an updated look at road conditions at www.511mn.org.
- DPS and MnDOT will use the hashtag #mnstorm when issuing emergency information during snow and ice events.
Winter driving is deadly
In 2014, 35 people died in crashes on snowy roads or while driving in sleet, hail or freezing rain. An additional 2,162 drivers and passengers were injured.
“Slow down if you absolutely have to drive in dangerous winter weather,” says Tiffani Schweigart. “Better yet, stay home. No social event is worth a loss of life or severe injury.”
911 tips when stranded in a winter storm
- If you become stranded in a storm, call 911. It will be necessary to provide your location. Unlike landline phones, cell phones do not instantly provide an exact location. Stay aware of your surroundings when traveling.
- Follow instructions. You may be asked to stay where you are until help arrives.
- Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous.
- Only run your vehicle’s engine for 10 minutes an hour and make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow. Keeping a window open a crack while the engine is running is also a good idea.
Social media preparedness messaging will appear on DPS Facebook and Twitter accounts and will be shared as appropriate by the National Weather Service and state agencies. Look for the hashtag #Winterprep.
During Winter Hazard Awareness Week, and all season long, HSEM suggests everyone take the time to:
- Create a winter survival kit to keep in all vehicles. It should include:
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Hand warmers
- Bright ribbon to hang from a vehicle’s window to alert authorities help is needed
- Update the emergency preparedness kit you have for your home. This kit is not only for severe summer storms. It will come in handy if there is no power during a winter storm. It should include:
- Three-day supply of water and non-perishable snacks
- Flashlights with fresh batteries
- NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency information
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Homeland Security and Emergency Management helps Minnesotans prevent, prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters.
2015 HSEM Division Highlights
- Coordinated five state disaster declarations
- Provided 135 oil transportation awareness training sessions to 96 departments
- Distributed 133 preparedness grants totaling $12.27 million to local governments